Leading off the bottom of the first inning, Gabe O’Brien hit the first pitch for a home run.
The blast over the high fence in right field triggered something big.
Pizza Hut/Post 53 put 12 men on base before La Crosse got an out and scored 10 runs that led to a 14-1 win in a scheduled nine inning American Legion baseball game shortened to seven innings by the mercy rule Tuesday at Carson Park.
“We really showed we can hit the ball,” said O’Brien. “This is a good team but we’ve struggled to put it together. This is very exciting. All we’re thinking about is winning the next game.”
Pizza Hut unloaded 14 hits in all and almost all the regulars got into the bat act.
“We finally had all our guys here,” Pizza Hut Manager Mark Faanes said. “It’s time for us to get rolling for the rest of the season.”
Faanes said it was about time the team got its bats out of the rack.
“Hitting hasn’t been what we’ve hoped for so far,” he said. “We took extra batting practice before the game and it showed.
“We were ready coming out of the batting cage, Gabe led off with a homer and it took off from there.”
Faanes pointed out that La Crosse was shorthanded and his club was able to take advantage of that.
“We had a showcase thing in La Crosse and were missing a lot of players, including pitchers,” said CJ Favre, La Crosse manager. “And that doesn’t work against a team like Eau Claire.”
Other key hits in the first inning were a two-run double by Connor Stoik and two-run singles by Cooper Kapanke and Joe Feck.
Feck also got a two-run double in the fifth and drove in four runs in all.
“Joe has been swinging the bat really well,” Faanes said. “Besides his RBI hits, he hit some loud outs.”
O’Brien had three hits in all along with Kapanke while Jack Fentress had two hits along with Feck.
Faanes used three pitchers with starter Ethan Kjellberg allowing one hit in three innings to get the win. Mitch Voller and Austin Goetsch finished.
“The pitching was solid,” Faanes said. “We decided to use three guys because they all needed some innings.”
La Crosse had only one baserunner in the first five innings and got its only run in the sixth with Justin Bausch’s single driving it across.
Pizza Hut takes a 10-6 record into Thursday’s scheduled 1:30 p.m. game against Chippewa Falls at Carson Park.
PIZZA HUT/POST 53 14, LA CROSSE 1
LA CROSSE (1)
AB-R-H-RBI: Brandon Stadtler, ss, 3-0-0-0, Andrew Johnson, c, 2-0-0-0, Justin Bausch, p, 3-0-1-1, Jerod Everson, lf, 2-0-1-0, Jake Prieur, 1b, 2-0-0-0, CJ Meyers, ph, 1-0-0-0, Brandon Bagniefski, 2b\p, 2-0-0-0, Eric Rodgers, ph, 1-0-0-0, Dylan Lapic, cf, 2-0-0-0, Ethan Roop, 3b, 2-1-0-0, Jack Coleman, rf, 3-0-1-0. Totals 23-1-3-1.
PIZZA HUT (14)
Gabe O’Brien, CF, 4-2-3-1, Connor Stoik, 3b, 3-1-1-2, Jackson Faulkner, ph, 1-0-0-0, Marcus Cline, ss, 2-1-1-0, Carter Hesselman, ph, 1-0-0-0, Ethan Kjellberg, p, 1-2-0-0, Mitch Voller, p, 0-1-0-0, Austin Goetsch, p, 1-0-0-0, Cooper Kapanke, 1b, 4-2-3-2, Jack Fentress, rf, 3-1-2-2, Jaxon Vance, rf, 1-0-0-0, Logan Rasmussen, lf, 4-2-1-1, Joe Feck, c, 4-1-2-4, Joel Zachow, 2b, 3-1-1-0, Mason Bauer, ph, 1-0-0-0, Austin Selz, cr, 0-0-0-0. Totals 33-14-14-14.
La Crosse 000 001 0 — 1 3 1
Pizza Hut (10)01 030 x — 14 14 0
E — Roop. LOB — La Crosse 4, Pizza Hut 8. 2B – Stoik, Zachow, Feck. HR – O’Brien,
IP H R ER BB SO
Bausch, L 0 7 10 9 3 0
Rodgers 5 6 4 4 3 2
Bagniefski 1 1 0 0 0 1
Kjellbergh, W 3 1 0 0 0 3
Voller 3 2 1 1 2 6
Geotsch 1 0 0 0 1 0
WP – Bausch, Rodgers, Voller, Bagniefski, Goetsch. HBP – Stoik (by Bausch), Roop (by Voller). U – Ted Joas, Denny Whiteside. T – 2:00.