No. 6 Eagles backing up state ranking with wins
NEW YORK MILLS — Having awaited a lengthy, wet April as the Class A preseason No. 2-ranked team, the New York Mills Eagles have backed up that accolade getting off to an 8-0 start.
The Eagles regular season post-snow got off to a slow start, as well, dropping the Eagles to No. 6 in the latest poll. The dip in the rankings was caused by only having three games completed by May 3 - all victories.
The Eagles have swept three conference doubleheaders putting a two-game spread between Menahga and Ottertail Central, both at 4-2 and both having gone down in defeat to New York Mills already.
The two wins at Russ Jacobson Field in Mills over Menahga capped off a three-game stretch of big bats from Eagle hitters. After scoring four runs in each of their first two victories over OTC (4-1 and 4-2) the Eagles erupted to score 18 or more runs in the next three games. In two versus the Braves and a win over Wadena-Deer Creek, New York Mills outscored their opponents 62-7.
The Eagles came into the season with a certainty on the mound. Both Tyler Patron and Brandon Kupfer have experienced arms helping the team to the state tournament the past two years.
“Tyler and Brandon have done a great job this year,” Head Coach Chris Bushinger said. “It’s kind of strange to think, but with the crazy spring that we’ve had, each of them have only had two starts. But, the key component with both of these guys is that they are consistent. They’re always around the plate with their pitches—limiting walks, and they really mix up their pitches well.”
From 2011-12 and including the eight wins this season, the Eagles have a record of 51-7. They have won 33 of their past 34 games. Patron and Kupfer have been a big part of New York Mills baseball’s recent Section domination and runs to state.
Menahga took the worst of the beatings given out by the Eagles this season in a May 8 doubleheader where the Eagles defeated the Braves 41-3 in total runs between the two games in a 23-0 whitewashing in the opener followed by an 18-3 nightcap for the sweep. Hits came from every spot in the batting order and from off the bench.
“On any given day, I think we can put a great line-up on the field. All guys 1-9 can put the ball in play, and we’ve had a few of the newer varsity ball players really step up,” said Bushinger.
Everything that could go right offensively for New York Mills did on May 8, highlighted by Jordan Wegscheid coming off the bench with the bases loaded and belting a grand slam to blow an already untouchable 11-0 game wide open.
More offensive anomalies from the first game included Dan Kraft’s first two at-bats. A bases-loaded double and two-run single gave him a 2-2 start to the day with five RBIs. Kraft ended the day with nine RBIs. Wegscheid added four in the nightcap for eight on the day.
Kupfer made game one all the more distressing for Menahga limiting the Braves to four hits, while facing only 19 batters in five innings. The only Patron needed in the battery was Adam Patron behind the plate. The Eagles found a third arm in Tucker Skoblik, who earned a victory for the second time this year and in his career.
Skoblik has gotten run support in droves. He pitched in the the 17-4 victory over Wadena and the 18-3 win over Menahga. His ability allowed Tyler Patron to start against Sebeka pitching a complete game allowing only one run in the Eagles 3-1 win May 9. Kraft took the hill for the sweep and pitched all five innings in a mercy rule shortened 12-0 win.
The Eagles made their week an undefeated 5-0 in three days with an 8-7 victory on the road at Ashby May 10. Aside from five blowouts, the Eagles have found ways to win games by as little as one or two runs in three contests all leading to their 8-0 mark with four games scheduled this coming week.
Ashby built a 6-1 lead as Damon Tumberg took the hill for the Eagles, allowing six runs, four earned. Tumberg gave way to Adam Patron, who took the mound from his usual duties behind the plate and tossed three innings of relief to Nick Kupfer catching allowing one run on just two hits.
The Eagles scored three runs in the fifth inning and did the same in the sixth to add a come-from-behind victory on the road to the win column. Good teams find ways to win and the Eagles have proven they have the ability to be in every game they play this year.
The Eagles are averaging over 11 runs per game while allowing a meager 2.3 rpg. A third trip to the state tournament seems highly likely if the mid-season trends continue. That trip is certainly a goal the Eagles have had to wait to start pursuing and are now on a roll in leading into the rest of the month of May and the coming playoffs in June.
“Early on in the season, as we talked about goals, we felt that getting back to the state tourney is something that we want to accomplish,” said Bushinger. “But right now, I think it’s very safe to say that we’re not looking too far ahead. Our focus is to take the next game in front of us and look at it and see what we need to do to be successful in that game. The season is going by quickly, but there’s a lot of baseball that needs to be played.”
The Eagles jumped to the No. 3 ranking in Class A in the most recent AP poll.
Next week, Focus Sports will feature the New York Mills softball team, currently rolling along with a record of 12-0 heading into this week’s busy slate of games