Tigers win regional debut with late rally

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

BRYCE HOFFMANN of Howards Grove rips a single in the third inning of Wednesday’s regional baseball opener versus New Holstein. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley BRYCE HOFFMANN of Howards Grove rips a single in the third inning of Wednesday’s regional baseball opener versus New Holstein. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley HOWARDS GROVE – It was by no means a well-played game but it ended up being a thriller, with the Howards Grove Tigers rallying for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to stun New Holstein, 9-8, in a regional baseball opener here Wednesday night.

Trailing 8-7 with two outs and runners at second and third, Austin Edge grounded to the second baseman who bobbled the ball and then made an errant throw past the first baseman which allowed Edge to reach safely and the tying and winning runs to score.

The No. 5-seeded Tigers, 14-8, were down 8-5 going into the last of the seventh. Terry Fritsch and Nick Merenick drew back-to-back walks to kick-start the comeback. Alex Strege was hit by a pitch which loaded the bases. Ethan Schelk was also plunked which forced in Fritsch to make it 8-6.

Dominic Probst came in to pitch for Justin Weber. Zach Fritz batted next and grounded out to the first baseman, unassisted, which scored Merenick and cut the deficit to 8-7 and advanced Strege and Schelk to second and third, respectively. Edge followed with his ground ball.

“I told myself before I went up to the plate to put the barrel of the bat on the ball and good things will happen,” said Edge.

“We knew we could do it. We battled. This is a game I’ll never forget. I’m proud of my teammates,” he said.

“The kids didn’t give up,” said Tiger head coach Mark Weber. “I was confident we could come back. I’m very proud of the kids.

“We had mental toughness, we showed patience at the plate and laid off of the bad pitches. Everyone contributed in the last inning.”

The Tigers showed a lot of resiliency as they also battled back from a 6-2 deficit after 5½ innings. Howards tallied three runs in its half of the sixth to pull within 6-5. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases for Schelk who came through with a two-run single.

The third run scored on a throwing error by the catcher who tried to put out Strege who was heading to third on Schelk’s hit.

The 12th-seeded Huskies (5- 15-2) answered with two runs in the seventh to go up 8-5. Jason Brandt ripped a leadoff triple down the right-field line. Travis Boehnlein reached first on an error by the first baseman which scored Brandt. Mark Sippel then hit an infield single and Boehnlein scored when the first baseman overthrew third trying to nab Boehnlein.

The Tigers had only four hits but drew five walks, had four batters hit by pitches and were aided by shoddy Husky defense. New Holstein committed five errors which led to six unearned runs by Howards.

The Tigers also struggled on defense with five errors that led to five unearned runs by the Huskies.

Schelk led the Tigers in hits with two and RBIs, four. Strege and Terry Fritsch scored a teamhigh three runs each.

Michael Voelker paced the Huskies in hits with a pair.Adam Schmitz led in RBIs with two. Devon Johnson had a team-high two runs.

Austin Edge was the winning pitcher in relief. Edge gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 2-2/3 innings.

Zach Fritz started on the mound for Howards and allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits with three walks and one strikeout in 4-1/3 innings.

The lefty picked off an amazing three runners at first base which proved crucial in a tight battle.

“Zach changed speeds and had good location. He’s really good at holding people on base. He did a great job (overall),” said Weber.

“We’ve been doing this all season,” said Fritz about the Tigers rallying for wins. “We had faith in ourselves and never gave up on each other.”

Weber thought Gabsch showed good leadership and that Schelk had a big hit (two-run single in the sixth.

The losing pitcher was Justin Weber in relief. Weber surrendered four runs (two earned) on no hits with two walks, three strikeouts and three hit batters in one frame.

Voelker was New Holstein’s starting hurler and he chalked up an outstanding 12 strikeouts in 5-1/3 innings. The left-hander gave up five runs but only one earned on four hits with three walks and one hit batter.

“Voelker pitched extremely well,” Weber said.

Weber thought Voelker’s location, breaking ball and tempo were the keys to his strong pitching.

“This was not a well-played game but it was exciting for the fans,” said the coach.



Score by Innings
New Holstein............001 041 2 – 8 7 5
Howards Grove........001 103 4 – 9 4 5
Michael Voelker, Justin Weber (6),
Dominic Probst (7) and Travis Boehnlein; Zach Fritz, Austin Edge (5) and
Derek Gabsch. W – Edge. L – Weber.
2Bs – New Holstein, Voelker. 3B – New
Holstein, Jason Brandt.

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