By Adam Gruenewald
Central baseball won a pair of games this past week as the schedule is winding down with several Minnesota River Conference games left to play.
Central baseball started last week with a 13-5 win on Tuesday, where they put the game away early, according to head coach Jon Wroge.
The first seven hitters reached for Central in the first inning as Carter Clemensen led the game off with a homerun that set the pace for the rest of the game. In all Central plated five runs in the first inning and four more in the second to go up 9-1. Kellen Erpenbach and Matthew Johnson each had RBI hits, Carter Millbrett added a big hit, Caleb Hormann had a big early double and Zach Stockman added a couple of hits as well.
“We hit the ball,” said Wroge. “Everyone contributed.”
Cade Zellmann pitched four innings for the Raiders with Clemensen throwing the final three in relief.
A standout pitching performance and a pair of offensive outbursts proved to be the difference in Central’s 5-2 home win over 5AA section opponent Glencoe-Silver Lake on Friday.
The Raiders blew open a pitching duel between seniors Mitchell Boesche and Zach Stockman in the fourth and fifth innings, turning a 1-0 deficit into a victory.
In all, Stockman threw five innings for Central, recording five strikeouts and giving up four walks and two runs with Jordan Harms throwing two innings and recording a strikeout.
The Raiders were without a hit early as Boesche had five strikeouts, but all that changed the second time through the order as Kellen Erpenbach and Matthew Johnson earning walks, Carter Clemensen reaching on a fielder’s choice that tied the game and Zach Stockman following with a double that left runners on second and third.
Cade Zellmann, who collected two hits for Central, then came through with a RBI single for the go-ahead run.
“Wroge always says to put the ball in play and good things will happen,” said Zellmann. “So I did.”
Reed Wischnack followed with a safety squeeze bunt leaving runners at first and third and before Carter Milbrett flied out to right for the second out. With the following batter in a 0-2 hole, Wischnack took off for second and got caught in a run down so Zellmann broke for home. Zellmann leapt over the catcher and landed on home in a dazzling display of athleticism noticed by the umpires, fans and players on both sides. However, he was ruled out because of the illegal leap.
“On SportsCenter a few weeks ago I saw a guy hop the catcher so I saw that and thought I’d give it a try,” said Zellmann.
Central then tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning when Austin Pysick and Erpenbach both reached on one-out walks and Stockman blasted a 2-run double to left field off reliever Luke Frahm.
Head coach Jon Wroge said his team’s four hits were bunched together as they took advantage of four walks as three of those walks came around to score.
“You juggle your lineup a little bit and you look like a rocket scientist when kids come through,” said Wroge.
Zellmann went on to connect on a single in the seventh inning for his second hit of the game.
“I’m seeing the ball well,” said Zellmann. “That last at bat I fouled a few off and got to know what he was throwing and hit a line drive”
Zellmann added the win over GSL was important as the season winds down.
“We were on a losing streak there for a little bit so it’s good to get back to winning,” he said, recognizing all of the close games the team has been involved in. “Wroge told us at the beginning of the year it would be close and it has been. We’ve had nine and won three and lost all the rest, so it can go either way.”
The Raiders (7-7, 3-4) traveled to Tri-City United on Tuesday in advance of a home doubleheader against Mayer Lutheran on Thursday, May 18. They then travel to a make-up game at Sibley East on Friday, May 19, and host Jordan on May 22 to wrap up the regular season. The section 5AA tournament is roughly scheduled for June 5 to June 8 with the Class AA state tournament set for June 15 to 16.
The section 5AA tournament will begin with Central likely hosting a home game on Friday, May 25.
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.