Eau Claire North’s baseball team had its back to the wall.
But the Huskies found a way.
Trailing 4-0 into the bottom of the fifth, they got on the board with two runs and then took over with four in the sixth and wound up with their first Big Rivers Conference win, 6-5 over Hudson Tuesday at Carson Park.
“We learned a lot today, a lot about ourselves and what we need to do,” said Gabe O’Brien who rapped two hits and took two bases on balls. “This should give us some momentum.”
The win was vital in that the defending champions came into the game 0-2 in league play.
But they leaned on reliable veteran Sam Stange and freshman Gabe Richardson for the key hits in the big sixth, in which they were helped by three walks and a hit batter.
And they did it in a clutch way, getting on base behind on the count with two strikes.
O’Brien and winning pitcher Carter Hesselman drew walks leading off after being down 0-2 on the count off third Hudson pitcher Sean Barnard. Stange ripped a liner to right on a 1-2 count to pull the Huskies within one.
“If we’re going to win, Sam has to drive in runs for us,” Johnson said.
Anthony Pogodzinski drew a walk to load the sacks and Logan Rasmussen was hit by a pitch for the second time to plate the tying run. That brought Richardson to the plate and he dropped a two-strike single into right-center to score the winning runs.
“He’s up here for a reason,” North Coach Bob Johnson said of Richardson, who had a four-homer weekend in JV ball at La Crosse Logan. “He’s got power and has always had success and what is encouraging is that he hasn’t pulled the ball in varsity play. He hit with two strikes. The kids a hitter, he put the ball in play and drove in two runs.”
North still had to survive some anxious moments in the top of the seventh to win. With two out and no one on, the Raiders Jack Erickson and Barnard laced back-to-back doubles to left and it was a one-run game. But Hesselman took Ben Gilbert on strikes to get the win.
“Hesselman had good command of his two pitches,” Johnson said. “He needs a clean defense behind him because he won’t strike out a lot.”
That wasn’t always the case, but they key was that he issued just one base on balls while the Huskies were gifted with eight from the three Raider pitchers.
Owen Anderson pitched four innings of shutout ball for Hudson before giving way to Luke Healy and Barnard for one inning each.
“Owen gave us four great innings but he had gone through the lineup two or three times and we wanted to give them a different look,” Hudson Coach Trevor Peck said. “We just made a couple mistakes and North took advantage of them.
“I liked the way we came back in the seventh and played the whole game. We just came up a little short.”
O’Brien triggered North’s two-run sixth with a towering one-out triple and scored on Hesselman’s ground single. Hesselman scored when Richardson drew a bases loaded walk.
Hudson scored once in the second and added three in the third as Erickson and Barnard drilled back-to-back doubles.
Hesselman, who threw 93 pitches in going the route, then retired seven straight batters into the sixth and was able to escape two-runner innings in the sixth and seventh. He struck out five in all.
O’Brien and Jaxon Vance each had two hits for the Huskies while Erickson and Barnard combined for five for the Raiders.
North, 6-2 on the season, goes to Hudson (0-6) for a rematch Thursday with Stange scheduled to pitch.
NORTH 6, HUDSON 5
AB-R-H-RBI: Luke Healy 3b\p, 4-0-0-0, Owen Anderson, p\3b\rf, 3-1-0-0, Jack Erickson, ss, 4-2-3-1, Sean Barnard, rf\p, 4-1-2-1, Ben Gilbert, 1b, 4-0-1-0, Ryan Rubin, dh, 2-1-1-0, Chris Jansen, 2b, 3-0-0-0, Mateo Bonnin, lf, 2-0-0-1, David Miller, cf, 2-0-0-0, Jonah Becken, ph, 1-0-0-0, Jacob Mathes, c, 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-5-7-1.
Gabe O’Brien, lf, 2-2-2-0, Carter Hesselman, p, 2-2-1-1, Sam Stange, cf, 3-1-1-1, Anthony Pogodzinski, 1b, 2-1-0-0, Logan Rasmussen, 3b, 2-0-0-1, Gabe Richardson, dh, 3-0-1-3, Jaxon Vance, 4-0-2-0, Joe Feck, c, 3-0-0-0, Joel Zachow, 2b, 3-0-0-0, Ely Johnson, rf, 0-0-0-0, Keegan Dehnke, cr, 0-0-0-0. Totals 24-6-7-6.
Hudson 013 000 1 — 5 7 1
North 000 024 x — 6 7 4
E — Vance 2, Rasmussen, Hesselman, Erickson. LOB — Hudson 6, North 9. DP – Hudson. 2B – Erickson 2, Barnard 2. 3B – O’Brien. SB – Vance, Dehnke. SF — Bonnin.
IP H R ER BB SO
Anderson 4 3 0 0 3 1
Healy 1 2 2 2 2 0
Barnard, L 1 2 4 4 3 1
Hesselman, W 7 7 5 4 1 5
WP – Hesselmanm, Barnard. HBP – Anderson (by Hesselman), Rasmussen 2 (by Healy, Barnard). U – Dale Parr, Chuck Morning. T – 1-58.