Eagle baseball on a hot streak
Winners of six of their past seven games, the New York Mills Eagles have shined like recent baseball weather improving their record to 8-2 after a doubleheader sweep of Pillager, 9-0, 7-6 and an 8-2 victory over Brandon-Evansville.
In their last four contests, the Eagles have outscored their opponents 33-10, following their worst loss of the season, a late April 10-0 blanking by Frazee in NY Mills.
"We had a little bump in the road when we played Wadena and Frazee in back to back games," Head Coach Chris Bushinger said.
"We committed a lot of errors, issued a lot walks, and didn't hit the ball as well as we're capable of. We were lucky in those two games to come away with a split. Over the last four games, I think we have played extremely well. The guys have done a really nice job of putting the ball in play."
Adam Snelgrove tossed a one-hit gem shutting down the Pillager Huskies in game one of the doubleheader. He walked only one batter and sent 11 Husky batters to the dugout by way of strikeout.
The one hit allowed put Snelgrove one batter above the minimum 21 batters faced in seven innings of work.
The Huskies were retired in order in every inning but the sixth.
Mason Roberts led the Eagles at the plate going 3-4, all three hits singles, with two RBI and two runs scored.
Shane Novak was a perfect 3-3, scoring once. He had a double and two singles.
"Novak, Roberts and Wegscheid, in the 9, 1 and 2 spots in the order, have done a great job of getting on base."
Brandon Kupfer, a freshman, was 2-4, scoring twice and knocking in a run on his third home run of the season.
"He is continuing to swing a really hot bat," Bushinger said.
Spencer Imsande scored twice and hit a double and a single.
Snelgrove helped himself knocking in two runs with a base hit and a sacrifice fly to center.
The second game was a tight-knit affair with the Eagles getting up early and hanging on for a 7-6 victory.
Five of the top six Eagle batters scored in the first inning to put NY Mills up 5-1 as the Eagles sent all nine batters to the plate in the first frame.
Senior Husky third basemen Jordan Hunstad scored in both the first and second innings from the leadoff spot, stealing three bases in two plate appearances, along with a run from centerfielder Adam Obermiller to cut the Eagle lead to 5-3 after two innings of play.
The Huskies would add a run in the fifth to pull within a run, 5-4.
In the second game of doubleheaders, the teams switch home and away at-bats and in the bottom half of the sixth; Imsande led off with a base hit and Sam Slieter reached on a base on balls.
Both scored to add some insurance and it would be needed as the teams headed to the seventh with NY Mills ahead 7-4.
Brandon Kupfer, who went the distance on the mound, got the first out on a grounder to second base.
An error at second and a base hit by Cole Hunstad brought the tying run to the plate in the form of left fielder Justin Hummel.
Hummel grounded out to Adam Patron at third base for the second out of the final inning.
Dylan Badger doubled to score both Hunstad and Matt Doss, who had reached on the error to cut the lead to 7-6 with the tying run in scoring position at second base.
Kupfer, however, induced Obermiller into grounding back to the mound, allowing Kupfer to retire the side and get the victory at first base.
Kupfer faced 34 batters, allowing six runs, only one of which was earned. He struck out eight batters and walked a pair.
The winning streak continued back at home as the Eagles pounded Brandon/Evansville 8-2.
The Eagles depth at pitcher has allowed a three-headed approach, with room for more on the mound, if necessary.
"I think the biggest part of the success that we've had over the couple weeks has been in our pitching," said Bushinger. "Over the last 28 innings of baseball we have issued just four walks. Tyler Patron has pitched two outstanding games over the last two weeks, one against Ashby and the other against Brandon. Adam Snelgrove has thrown very well too and Brandon Kupfer has given us some quality innings on the mound as well."
Tyler Patron got the nod and pitched a complete game like Snelgrove and Kupfer at Pillager.
Patron faced 26 batters walking none and fanning eight. He allowed one earned run of the two scored.
Patron also scored what would be the game-winner in the first inning.
The Eagles took advantage of Brandt Bitzan's early inning shakiness on the mound. Bitzan retired Roberts on a fly to left to start the game but walked four straight, Tanner Wegscheid, Kupfer, Patron and Tristan Huwe.
Huwe's base on balls counted for one of his two RBI. Imsande knocked in Kupfer and Patron with a base hit. The three runs were enough to seal the game early.
Huwe doubled in the third and came around to score on a Derek Gaudette triple that narrowly stayed in the park in the right field corner.
Brandon/Evansville got their only runs in the fourth. Billie Juul singled; Aaron Lund reached on an error at shortstop on a ball that took a nasty hop and popped off the glove of Roberts.
Juul scored on a double steal and Dan Schaffer grounded to the pitcher allowing Lund to score unearned.
Imsande stopped a fifth inning rally with a nice play in centerfield roaming on his horse to retire Bitzan on a drive to the gap.
Kyle Vorderbruggen ranged behind first base from his second base position to end the game on a diving catch with a runner on third to seal the victory.
"Defensively we've played well, limiting ourselves to a couple errors or less a game and right now we're playing pretty good baseball. Hopefully at the end of May when playoffs roll around we're playing our best ball."