Baseball: Wingers rebound with two-straight wins
After a heartbreaking loss in the first round of the Class AAA state baseball playoffs, Red Wing responded well, with two straight victories to claim fifth place in the tournament.
The Wingers' journey through the consolation bracket began on Friday at Reynolds Field at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul against South St. Paul. Red Wing had little trouble dispatching the Packers, scoring eight runs in the fourth inning en route to an 11-1 victory.
Heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Wingers saw its lead cut in half, but Red Wing's offense exploded by sending 13 batters up to the plate. Tre Moore led the offense barrage with two run-scoring hits — a double and a single — to push Red Wing's lead to 10-1.
Ben Kuehni earned the win after pitching a complete game. He struck out two, walked two and gave up five hits.
"We had an outstanding pitching performance by Kuehni in Game 1," Red Wing head baseball coach Paul Hartmann said. "We executed really well offensively with some timely hits and defensively as well."
Seth Yeatman led Red Wing offensively, going 4-for-4 with a double, two RBI and one run scored. Zach Harding hit two doubles, scored three runs and had one RBI, while Teddy Tauer went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and one RBI.
In the consolation finals, Red Wing went up against Willmar. The two teams went back-and-forth in all seven innings, but another big inning pushed the Wingers ahead late, giving them the victory, 9-6.
Gage Peine, who hadn't pitched since May 24, earned the start for Red Wing and threw the ball well, only giving up one run in the first four innings. Peine's work on the mound allowed Red Wing to build a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, but that's when Willmar made its comeback attempt.
Willmar opened the inning with two walks, a double and two singles to trim the lead to one run. Peine was then pulled in favor of Yeatman, who proceeded to strike out the next three batters, limiting the damage.
Yeatman also struck out the first two batters in the sixth inning, but the Cardinals got its offense going with two outs to tie the game up.
Red Wing put together its second big inning of the day when it sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh inning to reclaim the lead, this time for good, by scoring four runs. Leading the charge was Grant Rolen, who hit a two-run triple.
"Gage Peine threw really well for us and just some great execution on offense by many of our guys," Hartmann said. "Yeatman and (Teddy) Lillico had big games, Grant Rolen came up with a big hit for us at the end there.
"To have the experience on Thursday and to have the seniors go out like this is huge. I'm proud of how the kids responded," he added.
Earning honors for the Class AAA all-tournament team were Seth Yeatman and Teddy Lillico. Throughout the tournament, Yeatman went 8-for-11 with two doubles, six RBI and three runs scored, while also pitching 3 ⅔ innings. He struck out seven, walked two and gave up two earned runs on six hits.
Lillico went 5-for-9 with a double, three walks and one RBI.
Looking forward, Hartmann sees a lot to be excited for in the years ahead despite the heavy senior presence on this year's team.
"Our seniors have laid a great foundation for what it means to be a Winger baseball player," Hartmann said. "We've had some great contributions from a couple sophomores and juniors as well. With another trip to the state tournament, our underclassmen have gotten a chance to see what it takes to play winning baseball. I think it will all start in the weight room and buying into the culture that we have here."