Miesville clinches Section 1B bye
Facing Elko in the final section game of the season, the Miesville Mudhens already got out of a jam in the eighth inning with runners on the corners. And in the ninth, Miesville relief pitcher Erik Olson had trouble closing out the game as the Express loaded the bases with two outs.
But Miesville was able to persevere as Olson forced John Parker into a pop up that let the Mudhens leave Jack Ruhr Field with a 5-4 victory and the No. 2 seed in the section.
“We needed to get that bye; we got some guys who are banged up right now,” said Miesville manager/center fielder Matt Van Der Bosch. “(Starting pitcher) Andrew Werner threw a fantastic game, and Erik did a good job of minimizing the damage. And Erik was really sick coming in; he was battling some weird cough. ... It got pretty tight, and you have to tip your cap to Elko for battling back.”
Finishing section play with a 7-3 record, the Mudhens’ victory also shifted the top of Section 1B. As a result of the Miesville victory, Dundas (7-3 Section 1B) gets the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye, while Red Wing (7-3) falls to the No. 3 seed and will open section play Sunday against No. 6 Hastings at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
“I know Red Wing was really hoping we’d lose tonight,” Van Der Bosch said. “They’re a talented team, and I’m sure we’ll probably see them in round two.”
Starting with a leadoff double by Charles Bruchu, the Mudhens went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first when Alex LaShomb hit a sharp grounder down the third-base line to score Bruchu.
Both teams would wait until the fifth inning for another run to come across as Elko tied the game on a two-out RBI single by Ryan Vandusen that brought home Kyle Kraska. In the bottom frame, Bruchu put Miesville back in the lead, scoring on a wild pitch.
The Express responded again in the sixth with an RBI single by Kraska, but the Mudhens countered with two outs in the bottom of the inning. After Aaron Stein hit a two-out single, Jordan McGowan blasted a double off the wall, allowing Stein to score from first, putting Miesville back up 3-2.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit lately, and I was really looking for that first fastball and I connected on it,” McGowan said. “And give credit to ‘Steiner,’ he’s a faster guy than you think.”
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Miesville’s bats came through again as David Olson drove home David Vogelgesang with a double before reaching the plate himself on a single by LaShomb.
“That’s how you win close games,” Van Der Bosch said of Miesville’s three runs on two outs. “We had some hiccups in the field (with three errors), but with those two-out hits, that’s how you win ball games.”
After holding Elko to four hits over the first seven innings, Werner struggled on the hill in the eighth as the Express brought in runs from TJ Evanson and Kraska. With runners on first and third, Olson came in to get the final out of the ninth on a grounder.
Werner got the win in 7 2/3 innings of work, striking out seven and holding Elko to seven hits and two walks.
Olson looked in control in the ninth with just one runner on base with two outs. But Grimm and Kraska drew walks on full counts, loading the bases for Parker, who cracked a single in the eighth.
Even with Elko looking to stretch the game into extra innings, the Mudhens were confident in Olson pulling through.
“We always got faith in our pitchers when it comes down to it,” said McGowan, who finished 1-for-4 at the plate.
Parker put a weak pop up into play, halting the Express’ chance at a comeback and giving Olson the save in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Bruchu went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, LaShomb was 1-for-3 with two RBI and Matt Hanse had a pair of singles in the Miesville victory. Adam Alexander went 2-for-5 for Elko, while Kraska was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs and Vandusen finished 2-for-4.
The Mudhens (19-6) stay in town Wednesday for a non-league game against Prescott before ending the regular season Friday at home against Savage.