All three area baseball teams got to play at the Woodside Sports Complex in Mauston over the weekend and in terms of getting up to speed early in the season, it was a great opportunity.
Somerset came out of the weekend with a 2-1 record while New Richmond and St. Croix Central both went 1-2 in their games. But for the local coaches, it was more about the game experience in getting their teams ready for the Middle Border Conference season.
New Richmond lost two close games before the bats broke out in a big way against the tournament's host team on Saturday.
The Tigers opened the tournament with a 7-4 loss against Escanaba, Mich. on Friday afternoon. The Tigers played under the lights Friday night, losing to Hayward, 11-8. The hitters and pitchers were all at their best Saturday afternoon, when the Tigers mauled Mauston, 16-0.
Senior Ryan Kling pitched four innings of one-hit ball. Senior Cole Eastep gave up a one-hit inning handling the fifth inning.
Senior Reece Lucas was the big bat in the game. He delivered two singles and a double, driving home four of the Tigers' runs. Hayden Bradbury, Talon Seckora and Cooper Eckardt also drove home two runs in the win.
The biggest difference between Friday and Saturday for the Tigers may have been defense. They committed one error against Mauston after the Tigers booted the ball eight times against Hayward. The Tigers outhit the Hurricanes 8-5, but the generous Tiger defense gave Hayward too many opportunities.
Most of those errors came in the final two innings. The Tigers led 7-1 before giving up seven runs in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh, all of them unearned.
Jack Bau and Fred Riba had two hits against Hayward, with Kling driving home two of the Tigers' runs. Charlie Thibodeau started on the mound for the Tigers, allowing two hits and no earned runs.
Four Tigers got their first pitching work of the season in Friday's loss against Escanaba. A two-run triple from Lucas in the sixth inning was the best production for the Tigers in the loss.
Somerset is 4-1 for the season after winning two of its three games. The Spartans won 3-1 against Denmark on Friday. They opened Saturday's action against Gladstone, who was as good as advertised, beating the Spartans 16-8.
The Spartans showed some good things offensively in the loss. Nick Swanson singled three times and Jack Gazdik and AJ Beasley both had two hits. Beasley and Swanson both drove home two runs.
The weekend ended for the Spartans with a 12-2 win over Roncalli. Jimmy Siggens allowed two runs over four innings to earn his first varsity pitching win for the Spartans. Beasley led the offense with a single and triple, driving home two runs. Jack Casey also supplied two hits.
Somerset's baseball team made a valiant seventh inning comeback to defeat Denmark, 3-1. Aaron Shartin-Folkert threw a two-hitter, needing 72 pitches to work the complete game. The Spartans trailed 1-0 heading into the seventh. Hits by Nick Swanson and Will Piletich set the stage for Ryan Kelly, who delivered a two-run single.
St. Croix Central opened the tournament on Friday against Gladstone, a team that reached the Michigan state finals last year and finished with a 31-4 record. After falling behind 5-0 early, the Panthers played competitively the rest of the way in an 8-1 loss.
The Panthers began Saturday facing Denmark. They again gave up five runs in the first inning and they couldn't recover, losing 11-1. Wyatt Sundby and Keagan Berg both finished with two hits, as the Panthers produced five total hits.
It was after that loss that Central coach Tom Sauve had a heart-to-heart discussion with his team. He challenged the Panthers to live up to their ability.
"Talent-wise, we're one of the better teams I've coached. It's the mental lapses we need to deal with," Sauve said.
Playing under the lights on Saturday, the Panthers showed they took the discussion to heart. Led by a stellar pitching effort from Mason Dado, Central defeated Black River Falls, 10-3.
"He was filling up the strike zone," Sauve said of Dado's pitching.
Dado's aggressive style kept the Panthers on their toes, and that resulted in the Panthers committing just one error, a flyball lost in the lights. Dado pitched the first five innings, with Berg handling the final two.
The Panther hitters eventually came through. Josh Woodington produced a two-run single in the fourth inning and Sundby doubled home two runs in the fifth inning. The Panthers broke the game open with a six-run barrage in the seventh inning. Berg and Trevor Miller both drove home two runs in that inning. Berg finished with three hits.
New Richmond baseball
There were two games suspended due to darkness last Thursday. One was New Richmond hosting Osceola. The Tigers scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take an 8-4 lead over the Chieftains. Osceola scored four single runs in different innings. The Tigers had two bigger innings, including the five-run sixth inning. The game was called in the top of the seventh inning and will be completed when the Tigers play at Osceola on April 25.
Reece Lucas pitched the first four innings for the Tigers with Cole Eastep pitching the fifth and sixth frames. Lucas had one of the Tigers' biggest hits with a triple. Cooper Eckardt delivered a two-run single during the Tigers' sixth-inning rally. Brandon Gaspord and Talon Seckora also drove home two runs for the Tigers.
A barnburner of a ballgame ran out of daylight in Somerset on Thursday. Somerset and Central were battling back and forth. Central scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning, when it was determined that it had grown too dark to continue the game. At the time of the suspension, Central had taken an 8-7 lead. The game is slated to be completed when the two teams meet at Central on April 25.
The Panthers hit the ball harder, but the Spartans were very opportunistic in this game. Somerset built a 7-3 lead by drawing 11 walks from Panther pitchers. Senior AJ Beasley led Somerset's attack. He walked three times and singled in his four plate appearances, scoring three times. He was also the Spartans' starting hurler, working the first five innings.
Central took the lead on a two-run single by Zac Holme just before the game was called in the sixth inning. Holme and Wyatt Sundby both had two hits for the Panthers.
Trevor Miller started on the mound for Central with Keagen Berg and Derek Myer working in relief.
All the MBC teams will be in action on Thursday. New Richmond hosts Prescott and Central hosts Baldwin-Woodville. Somerset will play at Ellsworth. Somerset will play a non-conference game at Turtle Lake-Clayton on Friday. New Richmond will host Chippewa Falls for a pair of games at Citizens Field on Saturday. St. Croix Central will host Spencer on Saturday.