The three local baseball varsity squads had good days last Tuesday, with New Richmond, St. Croix Central and Somerset all posting wins in Middle Border Conference action.
New Richmond went to Baldwin-Woodville and bludgeoned the Blackhawks, 15-2, St. Croix Central broke open their game with Ellsworth by scoring eight runs in the sixth inning to win 11-3 and Somerset played a solid all-around game to defeat Osceola 8-3.
The Tigers pounded the ball from the start, building an early 7-0 lead. There were gasps heard all around the park, or it might have been the name "Gaspord" whispered in awe. In each of the first two innings, Tiger Brandon Gaspord bashed three-run doubles. Gaspord finished the game with three hits and eight runs batted in, including a two-run single in the fifth inning.
Gaspord wasn't the only Tiger hitting the ball with authority. Reece Lucas crunched a three-run, opposite-field homer in the fourth inning and seniors Jack Bau, Drew Momchilovich and Ryan Kling all produced two hits as the Tigers collected 13 hits in the win.
The win lifts the Tigers' season record to 3-2. This was Baldwin-Woodville's first game of the season.
Lucas pitched the first four innings to get the win, with Cole Eastep handling the final inning. They combined to hold B-W to three hits and two unearned runs.
The Tigers will be on the road this week, playing at Amery on Tuesday and St. Croix Central on Thursday. On Friday, the Tigers will host Chippewa Falls for a double-header at Citizens Field, making up the cancellation from Saturday.
St. Croix Central
Central and Ellsworth were locked in a gritty battle until the bottom of the sixth inning. Ellsworth scored once in the top of the sixth to tie the score at 3-3. The game then took a 180-degree turn, with Central having one unstoppable inning. Central rolled up eight runs to lock up the win.
It wasn't that Central knocked the cover off the ball in the sixth inning. It was mainly smart at-bats and smart baserunning that grew into a big inning.
"We told the boys they needed to be patient and take good approaches," Central coach Tom Sauve said of the instructions heading into the inning.
The sixth started with singles from Keagan Berg and Wyatt Sundby. Seven walks and two more hits, plus some aggressive baserunning, mushroomed into the big inning.
Central finished the night with 11 hits. Sundby led the way with three hits while Berg, Trevor Miller and Josh Woodington all totaled two hits.
Miller and Derek Myer split the pitching duties for Central. Miller worked the first four innings. Sauve said there were thoughts of pulling Miller after the third, but he pitched so efficiently that inning that he was given the chance to work the fourth.
This game showed some of the depth in the Panther program. With the Holme brothers at the state FBLA convention, the Panthers needed players to step up. Sophomore Spencer Trainor stepped in at catcher and freshman Adam Nelson was called up to play second base. Jasyn Bachtell served as the designated hitter.
"We have depth. That's something we really haven't had in the past," Sauve said.
The Panthers will play at Prescott on Tuesday before hosting New Richmond on Thursday.
The surprise of the MBC through two weeks of the season? That might be the Spartans, whose 8-3 win Tuesday over Osceola gives Somerset a 5-1 overall record. That's two more wins than the Spartans had all of last season.
Senior AJ Beasley pitched a complete game for the Spartans. He needed 91 pitches to complete the win, striking out 12 batters.
"It was classic AJ," said Somerset coach Zac Eichten. "He gets ahead in the count and then he can work a little magic. He's got four different kind of pitches and he had them all working."
The top three hitters in the Spartan batting order didn't produce a hit but that didn't stop the Spartans from being productive. Eichten said the depth in the batting order is one of the differences to the team. Aaron Shartin-Folkert had two hits, including a double, and drove home two runs.
The Spartans got out to a good start, scoring three times in the first inning. Nick Swanson and Will Piletich had RBI singles in that rally. The Spartans added one run in the second, before building breathing room with three runs in the fifth.
Seven stolen bases was also a key part of the Spartans' success.
"The kids are really embracing base running and we have good team speed," Eichten said.
The Spartans will play at Baldwin-Woodville on Tuesday, before hosting Prescott on Thursday.