The Reedsburg baseball team is no stranger to tight games.
The Beavers made sure not to let another slip through their grasp on May 14 as they used a three-run seventh inning to shut the door on Portage in a 6-3 Badger North Conference win at Bidwell Field.
“When we look at our guys right now, we’ve had some close grinds against some really good teams,” Reedsburg coach Sam Abbott said. “This was a game we needed to grind and come out on top, it really was a must win for us, and our guys grinded well.”
The teams headed to the seventh tied at 3 before Reedsburg (8-7, 5-5 Badger North) batted around for a three-spot to break things open. Junior Dakota Deitrich and senior Nathan Kruser hit back-to-back singles to open the frame before junior Hayden Hahn was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.
The Beavers, who stranded 10 runners on base, made sure not to waste the chance as senior Trevor Steffen snuck a single down the third baseline to score Deitrich and give Reedsburg a 4-3 lead. Following a pair of force outs at home, a throwing error by Kaden Lehman allowed Steffen to score and an RBI hit by pitch by senior Nathan Adelman put the Beavers in front 6-3.
Needing three runs to force extra innings, the Warriors (10-11, 4-7) were unable to extend the game as Portage was retired in order in the home half of the inning to end the game.
“We gave ourselves chances to score often today; we hit the ball hard a lot of places, didn’t see holes and we finally battled through in the end,” Abbott said.
Four of those 10 stranded runners were left on base in the fifth and sixth innings. The Beavers put a pair of runners on first and second in the fifth but Portage starter Ethan Bauer got Hahn to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. In the sixth, the Beavers put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out after a leadoff single by junior Ben Jones and a one-out single by senior Mason McMillen along with a Warriors fielding error.
Bauer, who allowed four earned runs on 10 hits with two walks and no strikeouts in the complete game loss, spoiled the chance however after getting back-to-back fly outs, including a deep fly ball by Jahdiel Rivera-Guzman, to end the inning.
“That’s where you need to put a team away and our guys know that, but at the end of the day baseball happens,” Abbott said. “We hit the ball hard on that double play and Jahdiel was right on it, but baseball happens.”
Reedsburg took an early 3-0 lead behind a pair of runs in the top of the first inning and a two-out RBI single by Deitrich, who went 3-for-4 and allowed two earned runs on two hits with four walks and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, in the second. Portage responded however, scoring three runs in the third, but were held the rest of the game by Deitrich.
The right-hander didn’t give up a hit the rest of the night and fanned four Warriors over the final four frames.
“In the third inning I had a couple issues slowing down my speed, but I just had to stick with it,” he said.
“He didn’t have his best stuff today but he grinded like a veteran. It was impressive with what he did,” Abbott added.
Reedsburg 10, Portage 2
The Beavers kept the momentum going a day later when they hosted Portage and cruised to a 10-2 victory.
Reedsburg took an early 2-0 lead after the first, with Adelman walking before Rivera-Guzman reached on a fielder’s choice. After a passed ball put him in scoring position, Rivera-Guzman crossed the plate on an RBI single from Deitrich. Deitrich would eventually score off a single from Kruser, and walks from Hahn and Jones.
After a quiet second, the Beavers opened the flood gates in the third, scoring eight runs to take a commanding lead. Reedsburg capitalized on five walks and a hit-by-pitch, while Rivera-Guzman, Jones, Deitrich and Kruser all added singles in the frame.
“Our offensive approach was absolutely outstanding all game. We were patient when we needed to be and really forced Lehman to work. It paid off for us as we were able to punch through with eight in the third,” Abbott said. “That gave us a chance to get Kaleb out of the game with a low pitch count which bodes well for us moving forward as we can utilize him on the mound later this week.”
The Warriors scored their lone runs of the night in the fourth off of three hits and a walk, but the damage was done as the Beavers went on to win big.
Abbott gave a lot of credit to Kruser and the other nine seniors for the sweep over the Warriors, and knows the group will be key as the team looks to make a postseason push. Reedsburg will first look to add to its three game winning streak on May 17 when it travels to Mount Horeb.
“When we have seniors like we have, it’s great to see them keep the boys together and come out on top,” he said. “We’re going to ride these guys down the stretch, for a really solid run hopefully.”
REEDSBURG 6, PORTAGE 3
Reedsburg 210 000 3 — 6 10 2
Portage 003 000 0 — 3 2 4
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — R — Deitrich (W; 6.2-6-2-4-6), Gruber (0.1-0-0-0-0). Por — Bauer (L; 7-10-4-2-0).
Leading Hitters — R — Kruser (2x3), Deitrich (3x4). Por — none.
REEDSBURG 10, PORTAGE 2
Portage 000 200 0 — 2 6 1
Reedsburg 208 000 — 10 7 0
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — R — Mueller (3-2-0-0-1), Gurgel (1-4-2-1-3), Belk 2-0-0-0-0.
Leading Hitters — R — Kruser (2x4), Deitrich (2x4). Por — Sankey (2x3).