ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound baseball team had the luxury of playing at home for a pair of regional games last week and took full advantage of it as they took care of Colfax 10-0 in a five inning game May 28 and after a rainout the following day, won yet another regional championship against Chetek-Weyerhaeuser 9-0 on May 30. It was the fourth regional title in five years for the Mounders and they will play Osseo-Fairchild in an opening round sectional game Tuesday, June 4 in Osseo.
If anybody arrived after the first inning they missed 70% of the scoring in the game. The Vikings had their best chance to put some runs on the board in the inning when Michael Hover beat out a slow roller to third then stole second base. He moved up when Austin Lee sent a ground ball to the shortstop who threw to third late, putting runners at the corners with one out. But Elk Mound pitcher Nate Spehle forced a ground ball to shortstop Dan Bachman who started a 6-4-3 double play as Alec Winter took the throw and relayed it to first baseman Cole Tyman to end the inning.
The Mounders made them pay for not scoring as Nick Heit led off the bottom of the inning with a single off Colfax pitcher Ethin Kiekhafer, but was erased on a ground ball to the shortstop. The throw to first for a double play attempt was late however, putting Alec Winter on base. Bachman came up with a base hit and Hunter Dicus sent a ball past second base to bring in a run for the Mounders and Hunter Hermes followed with another ground ball up the middle that plated two more. Hunter Kohls added anther ground ball single, Tyman drew a walk to load the bases and Spehle picked up an RBI with another base on balls. Seth Kruger added a single for a 5-0 lead and Heit came back up and was hit by a pitch, bringing in the Mounder’s sixth run. Colfax coach Tim Wilson made a pitching change, calling in senior Hover from centerfield to take over. A fly ball resulted in an out but also a run scored when Spehle tagged up but the Mounder runner was caught in a run down to end the inning on the play with a 7-0 lead.
For the next three innings, the pitchers were in control and both team’s defense came up with some big plays as Spehle struck out the Colfax side in the second, and Hover also put down the Mounders in order with a pair of deep fly balls to center fielder Nate Liebfried and a strikeout. Colfax left a runner on base in the third when Liebried drew a two out walk but a ground ball to first ended that minor threat. Elk Mound also left a runner on via a walk to Hermes but a long fly ball to left off the bat of Garett Phillips was flagged down by Logan Mittelstadt for the third out.
Lee and Sawyer DeMoe took walks with a strikeout in the middle of them in the top of the fourth but again Spehle took control and a high pop up fielded by catcher Heit and another K ended the inning with two Vikings on the basepaths. Winter singled with one out in the Mounders fourth but Colfax shortstop Jeremiah Wait hustled back and caught a fly ball in short center field while falling down and Liebfried chased down another long ball from Dicus for the third out.
Three ground balls with a walk in between was all the Vikings could muster off Spehle in the top of the fifth and the Mounders took advantage of two infield errors in the bottom of the inning as they put runners on second and third. After DeMoe fielded a ball at third and held the runners while throwing to first for an out, Kohls scored on a passed ball, Phillips picked up an RBI on an infield single and Heit sent a ball into the Bermuda Triangle that the shortstop, left fielder and center fielder couldn’t get to. Winter then slammed a double to deep centerfield to bring in the 10th run that ended the game early.
“Getting out of the first inning without letting them score was big because we didn’t want them to get any confidence,” Elk Mound coach Paul Andrea said. “We played pretty solid in the field and Spehle had good control for most of the game. We took advantage of their mistakes and had some timely hits in the first inning to take control.”
Eight different Mounders banged out a hit with Winter collecting two while bringing in a pair of runs. Kohls scored twice and added two RBIs while Tyman and Spehle both crossed the plate twice. Spehle gave up just one hit while striking out seven Viking batters with four walks.
Kiekhafer took the loss allowing seven runs on five hits with two walks. Hover gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings with four hits, three Ks and two walks. Colfax ended their season with a 7-6 record in the shortened season due to rain and snow outs and were 4-4 in Large Dunn St. Croix Conference play.
Colfax 0 0 0 0 0 – 0
Elk Mound 7 0 0 0 3 – 10
The Mounders dropped their team’s earned run average to 0.97 with yet another shutout, this time on a two hitter thrown by Phillips. After taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning, the Mounders put the game away against the number two seeded Bulldogs by pouring on seven runs in the third. Dicus led off with a single and Tyman and Phillips both had RBI basehits and the Mounders got a little help with two errors on the Bulldogs to keep the inning going to help the cause.
“C-W was not a pushover team but they had a bad game,” Andrea said. “The number of errors they had was a surprise. Our pitching continues to shine which allows our bats to have even a bad day and stay in games till the end. We will have to be solid all around to make it through sectionals but I think we will compete well with the teams we face.”
Dicus led the hitting barrage going 3 for 4 with a double and five other Mounders all had singles. Phillips struck out 10 Bulldogs including five of six in the first two innings and walked three for the game.
Chetek-Weyerhaeuser 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0
Elk Mound 0 2 7 0 0 0 X – 9