Eagles top St.?Anthony
By Jim Bastian
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM – It’s not how many hits that you get in a game but rather when you get them.
The New Ulm Eagles collected all three of their hits in the fifth inning and scored three runs as New Ulm used a dominating pitching performance from Tanner Kluis to top St. Anthony Village 3-2 Saturday in a non-conference baseball game at Johnson Park.
Kluis allowed just two hits while striking out seven as New Ulm improved to 9-3 on the season.
Both Huskie runs were unearned.
St. Anthony Village’s Mike Hankner also pitched a strong game. He permitted only those three fifth-inning singles in his five innings of work. He struck out five.
For New Ulm head coach Jay Backer, the win was a case of shaking off four second-inning errors.
“We battled and woke up a little in that fifth inning,” he said. “We got some runners on base and made them a little nervous and came out with a win.”
St. Anthony Village broke a scoreless game in the top of the third thanks in large part to a shaky Eagle defense that had trouble with the wind and also some Huskie groundballs.
After Kluis struck out Ryan Bernardy, Mike Hankner sent a fly ball to Eagles’ left fielder Blake Neumann who battled the wind and dropped the fly ball, allowing him to reach second base.
Kluis then fanned Ryan Rush for the second out before Nick Kampa lofted a potential inning-ending soft liner to Eagles’ second baseman Brach Kraus, who had the ball bounce off of his glove.
Zach Siggelkow’s grounder to third baseman Jacob Gieseke and Noah Blum’s fly ball to centerfielder Chase Meyer both were turned into errors resulting in two unearned runs.
“The way that we have been hitting this season, those four errors seemed big because we are in a hitting slump right now,” Backer said. “But I have to give our kids credit – we started waking up a little bit. I need to do a better job as a coach to have us more mentally prepared as we have developed a trend of starting slow”
Kluis permitted just three more baserunner the rest of the game.
“Tanner did an outstanding job,” Backer said. “When you can two-hit a team like St. Anthony Village, (10-3 out of the Tri-Metro Conference) that is a heck of an accomplishment.”
The Eagles finally got to Hankner for their only hits in the game.
Kluis led off the inning with a single and one out later, Cihak followed with a base hit. Hankner walked Tyler Dittrich to load the bases.
A Kraus walk and a single off of the bat of Neumann lifted the Eagles to a 3-2 lead that Kluis held.
“We always say we do not need a lot of hits, we just need clutch hits,” Backer said. “And today we got those clutch hits late in the game.”