Top-seeded Mudhens upset by Aces in opening round
An error by Red Wing loaded the bases for Miesville with no outs in the sixth inning as the Aces clung to a 6-3 lead.
But as he did all game, Red Wing starting pitcher Aaron Johnson came through, striking out the next three hitters to preserve the Aces' lead and lead them to a 7-5 victory Sunday during the first round of playoffs at Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville.
"He battled," Red Wing co-manager Andy Gibart said. "He was our game one pitcher for a reason."
Johnson allowed four earned runs on eight hits and three walks in seven innings but he finished with five strikeouts and four punch outs came when it mattered most.
The Mudhens again loaded the bases against Johnson in the seventh inning and after hitting Andrew Werner with a pitch to pull Miesville within a run at 6-5, Johnson struck out Brad Beskau to end the inning.
"I'm not going to take the ball out of his hand when he's worked that hard all game," Gibart said. "He came through."
And the offense gave him plenty of early support.
Jimmy Bohmbach went 3-for-5 with an RBI, Chris Guetzlaff was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Dave Jenson finished 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead the Aces. Steve Boldt added a home run and two RBI while Zach Garner had a hit and an RBI.
The Aces tallied six runs on nine hits and two Mudhens' errors in the first three innings and held all the momentum as Johnson allowed just one base runner. Erik Olson started on the mound for Miesville, allowing four earned runs in three innings.
"It was too bad we gave those first couple innings away," Miesville manager Matt Van Der Bosch said. "It's an unfortunate start for us and that's baseball."
Van Der Bosch hit a solo home run and was 1-for-4 in the game. Alex LaShomb was 3-for-4 and David Olson finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored to lead Miesville.
The Mudhens finally got to Johnson in the fifth inning, getting a single from Werner, a run-scoring double from Beskau and a ground out to first base that made it a 6-2 deficit. Olson got Miesville going again in the sixth inning with a leadoff walk, followed by a double and an error by Red Wing to score a run before Johnson got his three consecutive strikeouts. The Mudhens left 11 runners on base.
"Our situational hitting is just not there," Van Der Bosch said. "We got to do something there. ... We gave some at-bats away."
Van Der Bosch hit his home run with one out in the seventh to pull Miesville within two runs at 6-4.
Dustin LaRue came on to pitch in the eighth inning for the Aces, walking Van Der Bosch and giving up a hit to Charles Bruchu in the inning, but he got Olson to fly out to end the threat.
Chris Olean was dominant in relief for Miesville, throwing six innings and allowing just two hits while striking out six, but Boldt got to Olean in the ninth on a long home run to left field. It took pressure off Red Wing and grabbed some needed momentum.
"More than anything, it loosened us back up," Gibart said. "It made us believe we could win this game. It took a huge burden off our defense."
LaShomb singled to start the ninth inning and Colin Keefe fly out to right field before LaRue got Werner to ground into a game-ending double play.
"We didn't close games out for the first two months of the year," Gibart said. "We're a different team. ... We've been building up to this and it finally paid off."
The playoffs continued Wednesday as the Aces traveled to face Hastings and Miesville hosted Northfield.