West edges baseball Cards

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Ben Collier and Middleton’s baseball team fell to Madison West Monday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Baseball is — and always has — been about the little things.

Monday afternoon, Madison West did those little things and Middleton didn’t. The result was a 3-2 win for the Regents.

Middleton fell to 3-2 in the Big Eight Conference and 4-2 overall. West improved to 3-0, 4-1.

“The game is about little things and you have to make sure you’re focusing on them every day,” Middleton manager Brent Jorgensen said. “You never know when they’re going to come into play for you.”

They came into play throughout this contest, played on a brutally cold day with heavy wind gusts. West made the most of its opportunities throughout and scored the game-winning run in the seventh inning.

The teams had been deadlocked, 2-2, since the second inning when West’s John Frehner led off the seventh with a single. Max Hanson laid down a bunt, and Middleton relief pitcher Ben Collier bobbled the ball for an error, allowing both runners to reach base.

West catcher Drake Baldwin, a Missouri State recruit, then followed with a walk off, game-winning RBI single to right.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Jorgensen said. “They’re a pretty good team and (Baldwin) is a really nice player. We just made too many mistakes.”

The Cardinals had several chances to take a lead in the late innings.

In the sixth, Middleton’s Casey Hodgman, Adam Casali and Dylan Carrington all reached to load the bases with nobody out. After Jacob Meinholz struck out, Collier tried laying down a squeeze bunt to score Hodgman.

Collier popped the bunt up, though, and West pitcher Alden Burgess made the catch. Burgess then fired to third and doubled off Hodgman.

In the seventh, Connor Smith had an infield single to open the inning. Matt Esser pinch ran for Smith, but was picked off first base, and Middleton’s next two batters were retired.

“Just chances we let get away,” Jorgensen lamented. “We have to make pitches and make plays and we didn’t do that enough.”

West took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when first baseman Justin Grosse had a two-run double. One batter earlier, Baldwin reached when Carrington dropped a routine fly in left.

“You’ve got to turn outs into outs,” Jorgensen said. “It happened in the first inning and then again when they scored to win the game in the last inning.”

Middleton evened things in the second when Carrington and Meinholz had a one-out singles, then Collier had an RBI single to center to trim West’s lead to 2-1. With two outs, catcher Remington Lockwood singled to right to score Meinholz and tied the game, 2-2.

Middleton also put runners on the corners in the fourth when Jorgensen called a double steal. Collier took off from first and Burgess looked his way briefly. Meinholz then tried scoring from third, but Burgess turned back towards home and gunned Meinholz down at the plate.

Middleton starter Matt Ballweg threw four innings, allowing one earned runs, six hits and struck out eight.

Collier allowed just one base runner in the fifth and sixth innings, before West plated the winning run in the seventh.

“I was very impressed,” Jorgensen said of his pitchers. “Matt Ballweg threw a nice game, kept us in the game. And Ben Collier threw well, as well. He made guys earn it, threw strikes and threw all three pitches for strikes. That’s pretty much all you can ask for.”


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