ELK MOUND — Under warm, sunny skies with a dry field to boot, the Elk Mound baseball team hosted the Colfax Vikings in a double header May 6. Both teams have had several games cancelled or post-poned due to weather issues this spring and playing double headers seems to be the only way to get the conference games in. The Mounders had just one game under their belts, a big win over Prescott and Colfax started the day with a record of 1-1. The teams opened the conference season with Elk Mound squeaking by the Vikings 2-1 in the first game, then pounded them 11-1 in the second game.
Elk Mound ace Garett Phillips took care of matters quickly in the first inning when he whiffed three straight Colfax batters. Phillips then led off the bottom of the inning and reached base on a misplayed pop up behind second base, then promptly stole second. A ground ball to Colfax shortstop Sawyer DeMoe resulted in an out at first and an alert Jarrod Rudi threw across the diamond to get a sliding Phillips out at third. Dan Bachman drew a two out walk and Hunter Dicus singled up the middle off Vikings pitcher Ethin Kirkhafer but a fly out ended the inning with both Mounders on base.
Phillips struck out two of the three batters he faced in the second inning and had help from his defense in the third when right fielder Hunter Hermes made a diving catch of a deep fly ball off the bat of Logan Mittelstadt. The Mounders finally broke through with a run in the fourth inning when Dicus took a one out walk and Nick Heit smashed a base hit to left field. With runners on first and third, Hermes sent a ball to the outfield which allowed Dicus to come home, but Kiekhafer forced a pair of ground outs to end the inning with two Mounders on the basepaths again.
DeMoe knotted the score with one swing of the bat on the first pitch of the fifth inning as he sent the ball over the left-centerfield fence. Phillips didn’t take too kind to that as he fielded a groundout and sent the next two batters to the bench by way of strikeouts.
Lefty Michael Hover took over on the mound for Kiekhafer in the bottom of the inning and he did his job, putting the Mounders down 1-2-3. Phillips returned the favor in the top of the sixth, and Elk Mound came up with the go ahead run in their half of the inning when Dan Bachman reached first on a ground ball, Dicus drew a walk and Heit brought the run in on an infield error on the Viking’s part. Hover walked Hermes to load the bases but he took care of matters himself, striking out the next two batters and forcing a routine ground to first base.
With Phillips seemingly in control as he got the first two Vikings out in the top of the seventh, DeMoe battled until taking a walk and freshman Rudi ripped a shot past first base to send DeMoe to third. Then Phillips finished the game off with his 13th strikeout of the night to preserve the win.
It was Phillips’ second win of the season as he gave up just two hits and two walks while Hover was issued the loss as he allowed one hit with three Ks and a pair of walks. Kiekhafer gave up three hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Colfax 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 1
Elk Mound 0 0 0 1 0 1 X — 2
It was a different story in game two as Elk Mound, now the visiting team jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Phillips drew a lead off walk against Colfax pitcher DeMoe and moved around the basepaths on a double by Kohls, a walk and hit batter. DeMoe didn’t have any better luck in the second inning as he walked a couple more batters and with two outs, a costly infield error loaded the bases with Mounders. Dicus made the error count as he cleared the bases with a solid double for a 5-0 lead.
The Mounders added two runs in the fifth when Heit sent the ball over the fence off the second pitcher of the game for Colfax Logan Mittelstadt. The Viking’s third hurler Austin Lee didn’t fare much better as Elk Mound tacked on four runs against him in the sixth inning.
Phillips may be considered the leader of the pitching staff but Nate Spehle isn’t far behind as he threw five solid innings and gave up just one hit while striking out nine Viking batters with only one walk. Dicus finished off the final inning and whiffed three batters with a walk in the middle.
Both Heit and Dicus finished with three RBI and Phillips and Bachman crossed the plate three times. Rudi had the only hit for Colfax with a double to bring Lee in for the Vikings’ only run in the fifth inning.
“Elk Mound has a pretty decent pitching staff and it’s hard to win games if we strike out as many times as we did in both games,” Colfax coach Tim Wilson said. “We hung with them in the first game but little mistakes in one inning hurt us.”
Although the Mounder pitching staff combined for 25 strikeouts, coach Paul Andrea had some concerns about his hitting in the two games.
“We struck out 13 times as a team and that is not acceptable,” he said. “We scored 11 runs in the second game but had only five hits, all coming from the number 2-5 batters. Our pitching staff really carried us for both games and I feel very good about how all three looked, with the strikeouts and limited walks. Our defense played well behind Phillips who was almost unhittable in the first game and we ended up relying on a couple of Colfax errors to pull out the win. Spehle was great in his five innings and Dicus had a strong finish,” he added.
Elk Mound 1 4 0 0 2 4 — 11
Colfax 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1