Spence gets out of jam as VFW Gold beats Arlington

NEW ULM – Staring down a possible implosion, all Jarin Spence had to do was relax.

The pitcher for the New Ulm VFW Gold team had loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning with two outs and a 6-2 lead against Arlington by walking two batters and hitting another.

As Arlington itched for a comeback, Gold coach Derek Wilfahrt walked out to the mound and told Spence to relax.

“He pitched a great game so you want to give him a chance to get the complete game,”?Wilfahrt said of Spence. “There’s not really a magical word, you just say ‘Hey buddy, let’s just keep doing what you’re doing.'”

Aside from a fielding error that plated an unearned run after that meeting, Spence got out of the inning and finished his complete-game performance in the 6-3 victory against Arlington on Wednesday night at Mueller Park.

“I?just tried to settle down, take things a little under my pace,”?Spence said.

In the complete-game outing, Spence gave up four hits while tallying six strikeouts and four walks.

Gold got into that seventh-inning nailbiter with the cushion of two two-run innings in which Spence, Alex Stark and Luke Irmiter drove in runs. Gabe Knowles also contributed the sixth inning, crossing the plate thanks to a passed ball.

These innings came with Gold trailing Arlington 2-1, during which run support for Spence seemed tough to come by.

“There was definitely some cobwebs,”?Spence said. “We started off a little slow, but we started picking it up in the middle of the game.”

After throwing 47 pitches in the first two innings, Spence notched less than 10 pitches each in three of his five final innings of work. He also allowed one hit within those final five innings.

“He had a rusty first inning – he threw a lot of pitches but he only gave up one run,”?Wilfahrt said of Spence. “He started the game off a little slow, but he settled down, got into a groove and he ended up pitching just fine.”

As Gold was beginning to find its feet underneath it, Arlington struggled as it committed four errors – two of which directly resulted in runs for Gold.

“You can’t have four errors,”?said Arlington coach?Jeff Weber. “You turn those into hits and [Gold is] a good hitting team.”

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Knowles hit a floater that landed just inside the foul line out past third base. Numerous Arlington supporters called for it to be a foul ball – Knowles even stopped at first while the defense appealed to the umpires.

However, the call was not overturned and Knowles went on to score the run to give Gold the lead.

“I try not to hear them, I?don’t really hear them,”?Wilfahrt said of vocal fans and parents. “The crowd stuff??No, it doesn’t bother me. I usually just tune it out.”

A scary moment presented itself in the bottom of the sixth inning with Luke Irmiter’s at-bat against Arlington relief pitcher Austin?Brockhoff. With a 3-0 count, Irmiter belted a pitch that hit Brockhoff squarely in the left ankle before veering to his right toward the third baseman.

“It was actually pretty scary,” Weber said. “But he’s a tough kid – he’s going to fight back and play.”

After a brief moment on the ground, Brockhoff did just that by getting up and finishing the inning.

Brockhoff was in for starting pitcher Lukas Bullert, who got the loss in after giving up four runs off nine hits in five innings of work.

Gold will now turn its attention to its upcoming doubleheader against St. Clair on Saturday. The first game is slated to begin at 10 a.m.

“It gives us some confidence going into the next game and into subdistricts,”?Spence said. “So hopefully we can keep the momentum going.”

Arl. 110 000 1 – 3 4 4

NUG 100 212 x – 6 12 1

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