*….is what I WOULD have titled this blog had West pulled out a victory against the 20-2 Janesville Craig Cougars who hosted the 14-7 Regents at Riverside Park Wednesday evening on May 24, 2017. But alas, it was not meant to be.
Our lineup consisted of Austin Cotharn at short, Tommy Hill in RF, Drake Baldwin behind the plate, Otto Treichel at DH, Donovan O’Flahrity in LF, Eli Sorensen in CF, John Frehner at 2B, Charlie Met at 3B, and Owen Christenson at 1B. On the mound for West was Aiden Burgess.
Their lineup consisted of Jack Blomgren at short, Austin Kraus in RF, Evan Spry at 1B, Jacob Campbell C, Noah Berhammer 2B, Nick Cramer in CF, Caleb White in LF, Ross March DH, and Dan Blomgren at 3B. Pitching was Mitchell Woelfle who was bringin’ it tonight.
Our first inning was quick, with Austin and Tommy going down by the way of the K. Drake singled to left center but was gunned down by the catcher after leaning too far off first base after a pitch.
Craig got one in the first after a flyout by leadoff Blomgren. Kraus strolled. Spry singled to left. Campbell flew out to center, and Berghammer had a bloop single that fell in shallow left to score Kraus. Cramer then hit a grounder off of John Frehner’s bare hand on a high bounce, but Frehner recovered, reacted, and threw out Spry at the plate for the third out.
West’s second saw Treichel go down on strikes, and Donovan O’Flahrity single. He was then cut down at second base on a fielder’s choice by Eli. Frehner doubled with a hard hit ball to the gap in right center, getting the ball over the outfielders heads, a tough task on this windy blustery and way to cold for May 24th day. Eli was sent home to score but cut down on a nice throw and relay to the plate, 9-6-2.
Janesville’s second was slowed by Aiden Burgess fielding the first out by leaping off the mound like a cat to field a swinging bunt by White, throwing him out at first. March was hit by a pitch in the tootsie. Dan Blomgren was a strikeout victim, bringing up big brother Blomgren, Jack. He was intentionally walked after the count got to 2-2 and March stole second. First base was unoccupied, so he was given a pass with 2 outs to bring up an opportunity for a force out at 3 bases. It worked as Kraus flew out to right to end the inning.
Charlie, Owen, and Austin went down in order in the third.
Craig’s third featured no runs. Spry was hit by a pitch in the solar plexus and went to first. Campbell grounded out to Austin at short, Berghammer grounded out to Frehner at second, and Cramer stepped to the plate with Spry having moved to third. He hit a sinking liner to centerfield that appeared to be headed to the turf for another run. But, out of nowhere comes Eli as usual, diving head first, arm extended to snare the ball off the tops of the blades with his signature hair-on-fire hustling way. 1-0 Cougars.
In the top of the 4th, West went down with a hush. Otto took one for the team, in the back. He shrugged it off. Dono reached on an error when Cramer whiffed on a catch attempt in shallow right center.
The Cougars crowed a bit in the bottom of the 4th. White singled off Burgess, and March then tried to bunt. He put one out in front of the plate that Drake fielded, felt he had a play at second and fired forcefully. He spiked it into the turf and the runner was safe. The younger Blomgren walked, and the older Blomgren singled to knock in a run. Kraus then walked to knock (or walk) in a run. Burgess was then relieved by Charlie Met, and David Grunder entered and went to play third base. Spry grounded out, knocking in another run. Campbell singled, to knock in two more. He then stole second. Berghammer grounded out to Grunder at third, and Cramer singled to score Campbell. 7-0 Cougars.
The Regent 5th was highlighted by a well-struck double over the left fielder’s head by Charlie Met.
Janesville Craig came out to bat in the bottom of the 5th trembling in fear. They would have to face the Norwegian Nightmare, Jens Shager, now on the mound for the Regents. Their first batter the younger Blomgren reached on an error. He then stole second. With a 7 run lead mind you. (Pause to sigh) Drake soon gunned him down trying to take third base, and then gunned down another runner who wandered too far off first. Drake took two of their potential runs off the board. Nice job kid!
In the Regent 6th, we had a bit more fire after the sniping defensive gems by Drake. Tommy started with a single to right center. Drake was caught looking. Otto walked. Dono popped to second. 2 outs. Our favorite situation. Eli slammed a triple over the heads of the outfielders in right center and galloped into third with 2 RBI! He would score on John Frehner’s second hit of the game. 7-3 Craig.
Jens climbed back on the mound for the bottom of the 6th and sent the Craiggies down in order, striking out Berghammer for the final out, much to the delight of the Regent crowd.
In the 7th, Jack Blomgren came on to pitch. He works quickly, and one might argue was pitching too quickly. This is one of the many cat and mouse strategies of baseball that can go unnoticed. This is best battled by batters calling time out frequently and holding up their hand while getting ready to bat, and then having Mr Umpire signal that the batter is now ready and the pitcher may deliver. Unfortunately, sometimes this takes a while to be noticed and a strike can be lost. Sometimes this is a great opportunity to tighten a shoe lace. Or get something in your eye. Slow him down. Break the rhythm. But be subtle.
Owen grounded out to second, and was followed by pinch hitter Nate Millmann. Nate singled strongly up the middle, and got to second when their catcher tried to pick him off first and threw it past the first baseman. Tommy then flew out to center field and Drake walked. Otto singled with two outs to load the bases, bringing Donovan O’Flahrity to the plate with the bases juiced. I quickly reminded his mother Mary that a home run here would tie the game! I then explained to her that this was not like the unwritten rule about not taking about a no-hitter during the no-hitter. Calling a home run is fair game and not in that unwritten book. Donovan fouled off one pitch, then another, and then on an 0-2 pitch, he drove the ball deep, deep, deep into the cloudy sky and up and over the fence! But silly me, it was the backstop. Blomgren then snuck an outside corner fastball past a swinging Dono for the third out. Final score was 7-3 Cougars. Congrats to Janesville for winning the Big 8 this year, a feat made possible by Verona beating Sun Prairie in the completion of a partial game from Tuesday night.
We’ll be right back in J’town tomorrow at what I hope is a warmer Riverside Park. See you there, lets end the conference regular season with a big, fat W.