The philosophy that the Somerset baseball team had been using successfully this spring got turned against the Spartans in a pair of Middle Border Conference games last week.
And those two losses have extinguished Somerset’s hopes of winning an MBC title this season.
The team’s philosophy has been based around throwing first-pitch strikes, playing flawless defense and getting a few clutch hits. That’s what Amery and Osceola did, and the Spartans didn’t do, in last week’s game.
Amery beat the Spartans 5-1 last Tuesday. The game hinged on the third inning. After making four errors in their first 10 games of the season, the Spartans made three errors in that inning. The first was a dropped pop fly. Moments later, the Spartans had two throwing errors on the same play.
The scenario was similar in the 7-3 loss to Osceola last Friday. A few wild throws in the fifth inning led to four unearned runs for the Chieftains.
These games were doubly costly for the Spartans. Not only did they drop Somerset to 4-4 in the MBC, but both losses came against teams in Somerset’s Division 2 regional tournament bracket. The Spartans were hoping to get a top seed in the bracket, but these losses will make that more difficult.
“We came out flat in both of them,” Coach John Ball said about the non-conference losses.
In both games, Somerset’s starting pitchers struggled with their command more than they have at any point in the season. Senior Zac Waalen started against Amery. Waalen’s pitches were missing the strike zone on the high side, which put him frequently behind in the count.
Tyler Lueck started against Osceola, walking five batters. He only allowed two earned runs. Lueck worked the first 4.1 innings and Waalen finished the game. Between them, they struck out 14 Osceola hitters.
Because the Spartans have had very few non-conference games this season, the coaches haven’t had much opportunity to let the reserves get into games. That changed on Saturday when the Spartans played a pair of games in a tournament at Unity. The reserves came through too, as the Spartans won both of their games. They opened the tournament with a thrilling 11-10 win over Grantsburg. That was followed by a 14-0 pounding of Glenwood City.
Against Grantsburg, the only starter who was in the starting lineup was sophomore Logan Peterson. And it was Peterson who decided the game. Grantsburg brought in its top pitcher to work the seventh inning, with the game tied 10-10. On the first pitch of the inning, Peterson belted a walkoff homer over the leftfield fence.
In the second game, Jesse Krongaard was called up from the junior varsity team to get the pitching start. Krongaard showed he was ready for the assignment, throwing a two-hit shutout in the five inning game. He walked one batter and struck out two.
The Spartans had runners on base all the time against Glenwood City, with 12 hits and 10 walks giving them ample scoring opportunity.
There were several players who used Saturday’s games to make a case for more playing time. Reed Baillargeon led the charge, going 4-5 against Grantsburg and 3-4 against Glenwood City. Brody Penman, Austin Wodarz and Hunter Baillargeon also made positive impressions on the coaches.
“The kids were going up looking to hit,” Ball said. “Competition is good. Nobody can get complacent.”
The Spartans resume their MBC schedule this Thursday with a home game against Prescott. The Spartans will be on the road next Tuesday, facing New Richmond.
Somerset is also looking for a coach for its American Legion baseball team for this summer. Anyone interested in the position can contact Coach Ball at 715-781-3329.