PREP BASEBALL: Hitting comes through late for TMB against Wolverines

Photo by Sam Thiel TMB’s Jake Tauer winds up a pitch during their game against MACCRAY on Tuesday. The Panthers defeated the Wolverines 5-1.

TRACY – After opening their conference schedule with a win over Canby, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton baseball team looked to carry over that momentum against MACCRAY on Tuesday afternoon. The Panthers would be able to overcome a sluggish start and use a key fourth inning to earn a 5-1 victory over the Wolverines.

TMB coach Bill Tauer said they’ve been fortunate as a team have played a few games this season already and felt their defense and pitching were solid to carry them early before the offense broke out.

“Playing back-to-back this early in the season is a little bit of a challenge; we’re lucky we’ve played a few times, that was MACCRAY’s first game and this was our fourth game. It was good to get Luc (Gervais) some more time on the mound, he’s only pitched a few innings here or there, so we got to stretch him a little bit and let him go four innings and then Jake Tauer came in and did a nice job of relief,” coach Tauer said. “Overall I thought our pitching played well and our defense was solid. We got some timely hits, our hitting didn’t start off well, but we took advantage of some things late in the game to give us that lead. Anytime you get a win this time of year, it’s always good and it’s a good way to start the conference season. Our goal is to be competitive in the conference and starting out 2-0 is a good start to that.”

The Wolverines jumped out to an early start, getting a run to take a quick 1-0 lead after three innings. TMB struggled early on, as the Panthers’ bats couldn’t seem to get going.

Fortunately for TMB, it got a much-needed wake-up call on the offensive end in the fourth, as Gervais reached safely before coming around to score on a wild pitch to tie things up at 1-1. Konnor Zick stepped up and connected for a two-run double before Jake Byrne brought him in on an RBI single on the ensuing at-bat to put the Panthers in front for good at 4-1. TMB would later add another run in the sixth thanks to a leadoff infield single from Gervais and an RBI double by John Schmitt to bring it to 5-1.

Rylan Fogelson led the way for the Panthers with a 2 for 3 day at the plate while Zick and Schmitt each added a hit and a combined three RBI and Gervais, Byrne and Tauer all collecting a hit as well.

Tauer said their key on offense was just getting the ball in play and taking advantage after they had a slow start at the plate against MACCRAY.

“We just put the ball in play; we had too many strikeouts to start the game, so we just had to put the ball in play and make them make a play and we ended up scoring some runs off of it,” Tauer said.

Tauer, who came on in relief in the fifth, was able to pick up right where Gervais left off, throwing three shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out six. Gervais earned the win, tossing the first four innings while only giving up one run on three hits and striking out five.

Coach Tauer said he was pleased with Gervais and Tauer’s performances on the mound and felt it was a good starting point for them to move forward throughout the season.

“They both pitched well for early in the year and kept their pitch counts low, which is always nice. Luc got himself out of some jams, he had some situations where he had guys on second and third or in scoring position but he battled through those and got out of those situations,” coach Tauer said. “Jake came in and did a nice job with relief; (Monday) was the first time he threw this season and showed us a lot of good things, so we gave him three innings. It’s good to see because I feel like we have three or possibly four good pitchers and as you get going in the season, you’re going to need as many arms as you can so that’s always a positive.”

TMB (3-1) will now face Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Monday at 4:30 p.m. Coach Tauer said it was important for them to be able to get some momentum to start the season and hopes the incoming weather threat doesn’t affect them too much.

“Just starting out 3-1 is a big one for us. We’re a veteran team now and these guys have been playing a lot of ball through the years and we only graduated one senior the last two years, so this group of juniors and seniors have had to play varsity ball since eighth grade for a lot of them. It’s their time now to turn that corner and get to the next level and the way we’re looking now, I feel like we’re getting there. We’re not there yet but if we clean up a few more things then we’re doing alright,” coach Tauer said. “We’re looking forward to the snow melting, whatever we get and continue to play consistent because the worst thing that we could have happen is go back into the gym for two weeks, but it’s not looking good with the weather.”