By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — After winning in walk-off fashion, Prince of Peace simply issued too many walks in the second game to come away with a sweep.
But even one win early in the season was a positive step for a program that has won just five games the past three seasons.
“I’ve been trying to get these guys to believe in themselves for years, and I think they’re finally getting to that point where they think they can beat other teams, and it happened,” Irish coach Bob Mulholland said of his team’s 5-4 win against visiting Easton Valley in the first game of a Tri-Rivers Conference baseball doubleheader Monday evening at Ashford University Field.
The free passes in the second game allowed a young Easton Valley team to bounce back with an 11-7 victory to earn a split.
“The first game we were a little sluggish to start,” said Easton Valley co-coach Colton Bormann, just a year removed from a stellar career for Preston. “In between games, we told them to forget about Game 1.”
That’s one the Irish (1-3) won’t want to forget. They won it with a bases-loaded squeeze bunt in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Andrey Drury opened the inning with his third hit but was erased at second base on a grounder by Jon Weisner. However, Weisner took advantage of an off-target throw to first base as Easton Valley tried for a double play, and he wound up at second base on the error.
Lucas Laufenberg was walked intentionally, then Nic Roth came up with his fourth hit, a slow roller up the third-base line, to load the bases for Devin Bly. That prompted a timeout by Easton Valley.
“They called a timeout for a mound visit and Bob (Mulholland) came out to me, he was like, ‘Want to try a suicide?’ “ Weisner said. “I pulled Devin up here and he goes, ‘What do you think?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ So were like, let’s go second pitch, they’ll be expecting it first pitch.”
Bly said: “Bob called me over and said swing on the first pitch and bunt on the second one and try to get him home. I like to bunt. I bunt quite a bit. I’d rather bunt than hit.”
As Weisner charged toward the plate, Bly got the bunt down and the River Hawks had no chance for a play at the plate.
“I was going to swing no matter what because he was coming,” Bly said. “It was way above my head; I had to throw the bat at it.”
The River Hawks couldn’t get much going against Laufenberg, the Irish’s starting pitcher, in the opener. He allowed just five hits and two walks while striking out 10 batters.
“It went good,” he said. “Our last game against Lisbon, I was actually throwing pretty well but they just got on me right away. I had a better warmup this time and it showed.”
Laufenberg also drove in the Irish’s first run in a three-run first inning, and they built a 4-0 lead through three innings. But Reilly Reader, one of five freshman starters in the first game for Easton Valley, delivered a two-run single to pull the River Hawks within 4-3 in the fourth. They tied it an inning later when sophomore Cam Larson hit a sun-aided double to left field with one out and scored on a two-out single from Kyle Petersen, another of the freshman starters.
“Obviously it was a tough way to lose it, but we regrouped and we got the second game,” Bormann said.
The River Hawks (2-4) took advantage of Weisner’s wildness on the mound in Game 2 to end a four-game losing streak. Weisner issued 10 walks.
“We just had to come back and focus hard and get the ball in play,” said Easton Valley freshman Dustin Lippens, who had two hits and two runs batted in in the nightcap and also recorded the final out on the mound. “We got the bats going and did a good job.”
They didn’t need their bats to score twice in the first inning. Weisner loaded the bases with two walks sandwiched around a hit batter. He retired the next two batters but walked freshman Jack Mix and hit Reader with a pitch to force in runs.
Prince of Peace came right back with four runs in the second, but the River Hawks didn’t let that get them down and responded with four runs of their own in the bottom of the second, something Bormann liked seeing.
“With a young team you want them to come back,” he said. “You don’t want them to get down.”
Lippens drove in the first run with a single and scored the tying run on a groundout by Petersen. A single by freshman Lucas Miller brought in the go-ahead run, and the fourth run scored on an error.
The River Hawks increased their lead by scoring over the next three innings, then held off an Irish rally in the seventh to finish it off.
PRINCE OF PEACE 5, EASTON VALLEY 4
Easton Valley 000 310 0 — 4 5 1
Pr. of Peace 301 000 1 — 5 10 0
One out when winning run scored
Blake Bormann (6 1/3 ip, 10 h, 5 r, 4 er, 1 bb, 4 so) and Billy Trenkamp; Lucas Laufenberg (7 ip, 5 h, 4 r, 4 er, 2 bb, 10 so) and Michael Peters. Multiple hits — Prince of Peace (Andrey Drury 3, Lucas Laufenberg 2, Nic Roth 4). 2B — Easton Valley (Cam Larson). 3B — Prince of Peace (Roth). RBIs — Easton Valley (Kyle Petersen, Jack Mix, Reilly Reader 2); Prince of Peace (Laufenberg, Peters, Devin Bly 2).
EASTON VALLEY 11, PRINCE OF PEACE 7
Pr. of Peace 040 000 3 — 7 8 2
Easton Valley 240 221 x — 11 7 1
John Weisner (3 2 /3 ip, 3 h, 8 r, 7 er, 10 bb, 4 so), Bly (2 1/3 ip, 4 h, 3 r, 2 er, 2 bb, 2 so) and Peters, Timmy Dickherber (5); Larson (6 2/3 ip, 7 h, 7 r, 7 er, 7 bb, 5 so), Dustin Lippens (1/3 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 0 so) and Trenkamp. Multiple hits — Prince of Peace (Bly 2, Trevor Dickherber 2); Easton Valley (Mix 2, Lippens 2). 2B — Prince of Peace (Peters, Weisner). RBIs — Prince of Peace (Peters, Trevor Dickherber, Drury, Weisner); Easton Valley (Mix 2, Reader, Lippens 2, Petersen, Lucas Miller, Larson).