The auditions are over.
The New Richmond Millers spent the first weeks of the season deciding who can play and where they can contribute.
Wednesday’s game against the East Bethel Bandits was the final night of auditions for the Millers. And the Millers showed they have plenty of options, winning decisively 11-3 at New Richmond’s Citizens Field.
The Millers will play in their first in-season tournament in several years this weekend when they play in a tournament at Cannon Falls, Minn. The Millers open the tournament at 11 a.m. on Saturday against the Metro Merchants. They will face the Minneapolis Cobras at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Millers are hoping to use the tournament as a springboard to success for the rest of the season.
“Now it’s go time,” said Millers manager Ryan Stephens. “We’re done working on things. Everyone has had enough at-bats.”
The pitchers have been given chances to prove themselves. Five different hurlers worked in Friday’s game. That began with Grant Riemenschneider, pitching for the first time in three weeks after dealing with a knee injury. He looked strong in the first two scoreless innings. Fatigue showed in the third inning, when he gave up three runs.
Coleman Roskam, Lane Christensen, Reece Lucas and Dante LaDuke all pitched scoreless ball in relief. Stephens wanted to get all the pitchers some work in case there are rainouts over the weekend, but have them all still be available if the Millers get three games in during the tournament. Stephens said this also gave each of the pitchers the chance how they can handle working in relief, which is one of the team’s biggest needs right now.
The steady success of the hitters Wednesday showed the Millers also have plenty of options on offense. Jake Jirik, Noah Towberman, John Earley and Jaryd Marks all had four hits and Blake Kretovics scored four times in the win.
The offense was productive from the start. The Millers scored twice in the first on singles from Jirik, Kretovics and Marks. They took the lead for good in a three-run third inning on singles from Jordan Luehman, Towberman, Marks and Brock Luehman.
Three more runs were added in the fifth, centered around a double down the leftfield line from Earley. Singles from Towberman and Marks were the keys to a two-run burst in the sixth inning. Earley singled home Kretovics in the eighth inning for the final run.
The offense has generated 24 runs in the past three games. On Saturday, the Millers lost at Anoka, 10-9. This was another game of auditions. Lucas got the pitching start, as the coaches wanted to see how he’d fare in his first game above the high school level. He pitched sharply in his first four innings, before running into trouble in the fifth. He and Christensen gave up eight runs in that inning.
The Millers scored four runs in the first inning, on four hits, including a two-run single from Caleb Manecke. The Millers added two more runs in the third, when Dalton Kampsen delivered a two-run double, his first hit with the team.
Anoka took the lead in the fifth, but the Millers kept fighting back. Marks singled home a run in the seventh and Kretovics singled home two runs in the eighth.