Marshfield baseball turns it on down the stretch
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — Entering the month of May, the Marshfield baseball team was just 4-5 overall, had lost all four of its Wisconsin Valley Conference games, and was left wondering where its offense had gone.
The Tigers scored just two runs over a three-game span, which concluded with a loss in the opening game of a doubleheader on May 2 against Middleton.
The team’s fortunes changed in the second game of that twinbill. A bases-loaded, walk-off single by Sam Klein in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Marshfield a 5-4 victory. Even more importantly, it gave the Tigers confidence.
Since, Marshfield has gone 10-1, including eight wins in a row heading into Thursday’s doubleheader against Wausau East.
“It seems like the kids are just coming together,” Marshfield coach Mark Zee said. “They don’t care about who gets the credit, who has the big hit. They have just decided to put it all together to be successful as a team.”
Zee added that the Tigers are having fun playing a game they love, and they should be after what they have put together over the last three weeks.
Another walk-off win, on a hit by Matt Meyer in the second game of a doubleheader against New Richmond on May 10, started the win streak.
In the next game, Marshfield scored nine times in the top of the seventh inning to beat Merrill 12-8 and followed that up with a 10-0 whitewashing of the Bluejays at home two days later.
On May 16 the Tigers opened their home tournament with another walk-off win, this time beating Menomonie 9-8 on an RBI sacrifice fly by Cameron Swanson in the ninth inning.
The Tigers have scored 61 runs during their eight-game winning streak, which includes six in a row in the Valley, moving them from last place into second.
“I think it started playing a lot of (nonconference) games on those weekends,” Zee said. “Usually what happens is you get to see some less experienced pitching in those games. We got some good pitching from our group and took advantage of that to win some games. It was good to get our confidence going, and it paid off in our hitting and our pitching.”
Sophomore Jake Brueggen was one of the pitchers who got a chance to throw in a nonconference game early in the season out of necessity. He defeated Eau Claire North 6-2 back on the opening weekend of the season, and after giving up just one run in six innings against Tomah a couple of weeks later, he found himself in the rotation for good. He is 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA.
Senior Jack Donahue is the team’s other main starter, and after some early-season struggles he has turned in 12-straight scoreless innings in his last two starts.
“We’ve said that decent pitching and good defense keeps you close and gives you a chance if you can hit,” Zee said. “The top six in the batting order are all seniors except Trevor Schwecke, but he is a two-year starter. We knew the guys behind them were good hitters too, and now everybody is hitting. Everybody is having fun.”
Marshfield closes its regular-season schedule at Mosinee on Friday.
Marshfield earned a No. 3 seed in the Division 1 Sectional 1 bracket and received a first-round bye. The Tigers (15-7) will host the winner of No. 11 New Richmond (11-10) and No. 6 Chippewa Falls (12-7) in a regional final on Thursday, June 4, at Jack Hackman Field at 5 p.m.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.