By Ken McKenzie
The SPASH baseball team was successful in their home opener Tuesday, dropping Wausau East 4-2.
The Panthers put solo runs across in each of the first three innings, adding an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth and shutting off a late rally by the Lumberjacks to seal the win.
“I thought a key to the game was the leadership of Noel Winch,” said SPASH Head Coach Kraig Terpstra. “He’s a senior who’s been on the roster for a couple of years and now has a chance to be a player who really contributes. Today he did it both on the mound where he pitched a strong five innings pitched and really attacked hitters and was sharp at the plate, making the most of a couple of RBI opportunities.”
With two outs in the bottom of the opening inning, Andrew Ruzek reached on an error and stole second base.
In the second, DJ Drohner singled to center to start the inning with Trev Anderson adding a one-out single and courtesy runner Jamison Kryshak coming around to score the second run on Ted Kearney’s fielder’s choice. In the third Winch drove in the third run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center to score TJ Schrank.
In both the second and fifth innings, Winch fielded his pitching position, using ‘come-backer’ ground balls to start 1-6-3 double plays to squash East rally attempts. In the fourth, it was double play defensive friend again as two walks had given East an opportunity but a liner to Anderson at short with an easy tag for yet another double play ending threat. Winch finished with four strikeouts and two walks in five innings pitched in spacing five hits and yielding one run.
The Panthers got an insurance run in the sixth as Drohner opened the inning with a double to left center; advancing to third on Olds’ bunt to the third base side. Anderson followed with a single to right scoring SPASH’s final run.
Nathan Olds came on to pitch in the sixth and seventh, giving up one run on a homer to left by Lumberjack first baseman Luke Strick. Olds had two strikeouts and a walk while spacing three total hits and the one earned run.
In the seventh East mounted their final rally effort when Levi Treinen was hit-by-pitch and Adam Peterson later walked and Jordan Heiting had an infield single between short and third to load the bases. Austin Reed was called in to close and struck out his only batter on three consecutive strikes; delivering a knee-buckler on the final pitch to end the game.
SPASH is now 2-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference and will travel to Wausau East on Thursday for a 4:30 PM rematch before hosting a Saturday double-header against Green Bay Preble at Bukolt Park beginning at 11 AM.