After Tuesday’s blowout, Eau Claire’s intracity baseball series returned to normal.
At least in a historical view.
Underdog Memorial scored two runs in the top of the seventh without a hit to steal a 6-5 decision from North despite getting only two hits overall in Thursday’s game at Carson Park.
“I told the kids that nobody gives us a chance except yourselves,” Memorial Coach Dan Roehl said. “All you can do is fight and compete and give yourselves a chance.”
North came in as a heavy favorite after Tuesday’s 10-0 win in six innings but the Huskies let Thursday’s match slip away with some sloppy play in the field and missed opportunities.
“I think the cross city thing got to us,” North Coach Bob Johnson said. “We had strung together 11 wins in a row and that wasn’t going to continue so this gives us something to learn from.”
The loss ended the defending champion Huskies’ chance for a repeat Big Rivers Conference title although they were also eliminated by River Falls’ win over Chippewa Falls Thursday.
“This was a frustrating loss, but not devastating. We’re still in a position to win games.”
In the series which Memorial holds a 75-72 advantage, it marked the sixth straight year in which the two teams split games and the 15th in 17 games in which a game was won by three runs or less.
With two out and nobody on in the seventh, Andrew Roberts drew a walk that ended the night for Husky ace Carter Hesselman. Xavier Bembnister came out of the bullpen and found nothing but tough luck.
Mitch Voller, who pitched the first four innings for the Abes, was safe on an outfield error and Kaden Kohlhepp also reached on an infield miscue, Roberts scoring the tying run. With Cooper Kapanke at bat, Voller scored the winner on a wild pitch.
“We just tried to light a spark and get something going,” said Kapanke, who drilled a home run into the football field in the second. “We battled, it was a team effort.”
Roehl credited Kapanke with providing that spark.
“He won’t tell you, but he’s playing with a bad knee but won’t come out of a game. He hit that homer into a stiff wind and it was the spark we needed.”
Jack Fentress came on for Voller in the final three innings and shut the Huskies down on one hit to get the win.
“That was a good example of two players doing everything for us,” Roehl said. “Voller is not a pitcher but you can call on him to compete. Fentress is beat up but he plays all over and has had a great year.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Fentress got the first two batters and after an error and base on balls allowed two runners to reach, he forced a ground ball that he retired himself at first base.
As Johnson said, it was a frustrating night for the Huskies, who scored three times in the first inning but left the bases loaded when it looked like a big inning. They added runs in the third and fourth to hold the lead but could get nothing over the last three frames.
Kapanke’s homer gave the Abes some hope early.
“I was just trying to hit the ball up the middle and get on base,” he said. “I hit a fastball on time and it felt pretty good.”
Memorial’s only other hit was a clean single to left by Vince Trapani in the fourth, in which the Abes scored twice to pull within one.
Hesselman may not have been at the top of his game, but allowed just the two hits and two earned runs in his 6 2/3 innings.
Freshman Gabe Richardson was once again the hitting star for the Huskies, rapping two doubles and driving in two runs after belting a pair of doubles in Tuesday’s win. Cal Fadness also drove in two runs with two singles.
North (14-4, 7-3 Big Rivers) is scheduled to meet La Crosse Central in a 3 p.m. doubleheader today at Carson Park. The Huskies have two games with Chippewa Falls to close out the conference schedule.
Memorial (9-10, 3-7) meets Hudson in two games next week.
MEMORIAL 6, NORTH 5
AB-R-H-RBI: Andrew Roberts, cf, 1-1-0-0, Mitch Voller, p\3b, 4-1-0-0. Kaden Kohlhepp, 2b, 4-0-0-0, Cooper Kapanke, 1b, 1-2-1-1, Jack Fentress, rf\p, 3-0-0-0, Connor Stoik, ss, 2-1-0-0, Vince Trapani, dh, 3-0-1-0, Bryce Kostman, c, 1-0-0-1, Grant Gerber, ph, 0-0-0-0, Jack Piper, 3b, 2-1-0-0, Jonah Wiggins, ph, 0-0-0-0, Chase Bredl, lf, 0-0-0-0, Alex Krajewski, cr, 0-0-0-0. Totals 21-6-2-2.
Gabe O’Brien, rf, 5-0-0-0, Carter Hesselman, p\ss, 3-1-0-0, Sam Stange, cf, 4-0-0-0, Anthony Pogozinski, 1b, 1-3-0-0, Gabe Richardson, 3b, 3-1-2-2, Cal Fadness, dh, 3-0-2-2, Jaxon Vance, ss, 4-0-1-1, Joel Zachow, 2b, 3-0-0-0, Keegan Dehnke, lf, 3-0-1-0, Joe Feck, c, 0-0-0-0, Ely Johnson, cr, 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-5-6-5.
Memorial 011 200 2 — 6 2 2
North 301 100 0 — 5 6 4
E — Stoik, Kapanke, Vance, Zachow, Dehnke, Voller. LOB — Memorial 4, North 9. 2B –Richardson 2. HR – Kapanke. SB – Johnson, Vance. Sac – Stoik, Wiggins.
IP H R ER BB SO
Voller 4 5 5 4 4 2
Fentress, W 3 1 0 0 1 1
Hesselman 6 2/3 2 5 2 6 3
Xavier Bembnister, L 1/3 0 1 0 1 0
WP – Voller, Bembnister. HBP – Pogodzinski (by Voller 2), Fadness (by Voller), Roberts, Kapanke, (by Hesselman). U – Dick Smith, Chuck Morning. T – 2:34.