New Richmond's Ryan Kling and St. Croix Central's Derek Myer have been voted as the Most Valuable Players on the 2019 All-Middle Border Conference baseball team.
Kling was the ace pitcher for the Tigers, which rolled to a 14-0 record and a conference championship. Myer was the top offensive force for the Panthers, which finished in second place in the conference.
The Tigers had seven players selected for the All-MBC team, including three on the first team. Joining Kling on the first team are Reece Lucas and Talon Seckora. New Richmond's second team selections were Jack Bau, Hayden Bradbury and Drew Momchilovich. All six are seniors. Junior Cooper Eckardt was an honorable mention choice.
The team's success in 2019 began with Kling, who had one of the best pitching seasons in team history. His 11 wins tied the record for most in a season. His 0.80 earned run average is the second lowest in team history. He had the lowest ERA until he gave up two runs in the sectional loss to Tomah. He finished his career with 16 wins.
"He was our horse," said Tiger coach Travis Helland. "When we had a big game, he was the guy we wanted on the mound."
Kling and Lucas formed one of the best 1-2 pitching combinations in the state. Lucas finished at 6-2, including a 5-0 mark in conference games. Lucas also made major strides at the plate. He finished with 28 RBI, batting .441 in MBC games.
"In my opinion, he was the best all-around outfielder in the conference," Helland said.
Lucas' best competition for the top defensive outfielder title would have come from Seckora. Seckora had excellent range to take away a number of hits in the alleys. He also hit .313 with 20 runs scored.
"He was probably the best center fielder in the conference. He's a gamer," Helland said.
Bau generated one of the best offensive seasons in Tiger history. He batted .529, which ranks as the second best average in team history. He matched his total of 38 runs scored with 38 RBI. He set the Tiger season record for doubles with 11 and he set the Tiger career record for doubles with 24.
"His numbers are unbelievable," Helland said. "He's probably one of the most talented players we've ever had in New Richmond."
Bradbury had an excellent season as the Tiger second baseman. He batted .355 and his 30 runs scored ranked second on the team.
"He's probably the toughest player I've ever coached," Helland said. "He played with a broken neck against Tomah. He was in extreme pain."
Momchilovich batted .343 for the Tigers and timing was his biggest asset.
"He had some really big hits for us," Helland said. "Every game he had good at-bats."
Eckardt stepped into the first base role to solidify the Tigers' infield defense. He ranked third on the team with 19 runs driven home.
"He had the tough job of batting behind Jack. He'll be one of the core guys coming back," Helland said.
The Tigers also announced their team awards for the season.
Pitcher of the Year: Ryan Kling
Offensive Player of the Year: Jack Bau
Defensive Player of the Year: Jacob Gondreau
Rookie of the Year: Charlie Thibodeau
St. Croix Central
Derek Myer became the first Player of the Year that Central has produced in baseball since moving to the MBC. Myer and juniors Zac Holme and Wyatt Sundby were voted onto the All-MBC first team. Senior Keagen Berg was selected for the second team and junior Trevor Miller was an honorable mention selection.
Myer capped an outstanding career with his Player of the Year honor. He led the Panthers this season with a .439 batting average, which included a .500 average in conference games. Myer had a breakthrough season as a junior. Central coach Tom Sauve said Myer had to adjust this season, as teams did everything they could to avoid giving him hittable pitches. With his 25 hits and 24 walks, Myer was constantly on base for the Panthers. This is his third time on the All-MBC team. He was a first teamer last year and a second teamer as a sophomore.
Holme was the player challenged most by teams pitching around Myer. Holme answered the challenge with a breakthrough season of his own. He led the Panthers with 26 runs driven in, finishing with a .353 batting average.
"His emergence helped solidify our offense," Sauve said. "We're really excited about his future."
Sundby tied for second on the Panthers with 25 hits and was third on the team with 15 runs scored. But where he really built his reputation was in right field, where he's considered one of the conference's best outfielders. Sundby and Berg were the table setters at the top of the Panther batting order. Berg hit .403, leading the Panthers with 29 hits and 23 runs scored. Berg also emerged as a reliable pitching option this season.
Miller was the Panthers' top pitcher, working 49 innings and finishing with a 4-4 record. He topped the team with 60 strikeouts.
"I think he's one of the better pitchers in the conference," Sauve said, saying Miller also made substantial progress as a shortstop this season.
For the third time senior AJ Beasley was an All-MBC choice, making the first team this season. He was selected to the second team as a sophomore and was an honorable mention selection as a freshman. Somerset sophomore Jack Gazdik made the All-MBC team for the first time as an honorable mention pick.
Beasley was Mr. Everything for the Spartans, as the team's leading pitcher and offensive weapon. He hit .469 this season. He hit two homers and led the team with 19 runs batted in and 19 stolen bases.
"He gave us everything. He was obviously our ace," said Somerset coach Zac Eichten.
Gazdik showed impressive pop in his bat. He finished the season at .358, driving home 17 runs. Among his hits were seven doubles.
Here are the Spartans' team awards for the season:
Most Valuable: AJ Beasley
Most Improved: Ryan Kelly
Rookie of the Year: Jimmy Siggens