Wingers a win away from first state trip since 1977
RED WING — From the second it took the field Saturday afternoon, the Red Wing baseball team walked with a swagger.
The Wingers are a confident group. Meanwhile, the Rochester John Marshall Rockets seemed to lose every bit of confidence they had in the fourth inning of Saturday’s Section One, Class AAA semifinal game at the Athletic Field.
The Rockets committed four errors in the fourth inning, leading to nine unearned runs and eventually a 10-0 loss in five innings.
The Wingers haven’t been to the state tournament since 1977, but now they’re one win away from playing at Midway Stadium in St. Paul on June 14.
"That went well; hopefully we can keep it going and get one more," Red Wing coach Jim Bohmbach said. "This team definitely is playing with a lot of confidence. We just can’t get too confident and let up at all."
JM will get another crack at the Wingers, though. After the Rockets downed Owatonna in the losers bracket, they earned a spot in Tuesday’s section-title game back at The Ath at 5 p.m. JM must beat the Wingers twice to advance to state, though.
Even if the Rockets hadn’t booted the ball around in the fourth, it would have been tough to score off Red Wing ace Zach Garner, who was outstanding Saturday.
Garner allowed just two hits in five innings, and no JM batter made it past first base. Garner finished with seven strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
"Zach was great," Red Wing junior Ryan Boldt said. "He’s done that all year, though. I think he only threw like 50-some pitches, so he could be available for Tuesday, too, if we need him."
While Garner was shutting down the Rockets, Boldt was jump-starting the Red Wing offense. With his speed, he can single-handedly manufacture runs.
Boldt did just that in the wild fourth inning. He singled, then stole second, then third, and he came home when the throw down to third sailed over the third baseman’s head.
"Boldt can do that for us," Bohmbach said. "If he gets on base, he’s able to create a lot of offense with his speed."
Boldt had just one hit, but he walked twice and had three stolen bases.
Joel Newman paced the Wingers, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs.
JM starter Ryan Lakin looked sharp early. He rolled into the fourth inning having allowed just one hit. But the JM defense fell apart in the fourth.
Rockets outfielders dropped two balls, and two different throws got away from infielders. The ugliness ended with nine Red Wing runs on the board; all nine Red Wing batters scored and five different players hit twice.
For a team that has been solid defensively for much of the season, it was an uncharacteristic demise.
"I did not expect that at all," Bohmbach said. "They’ve looked very solid. But I think the bottom line is we were able to take advantage when they gave us extra chances."
Though he did not allow an earned run, Lakin was lifted after seven runs crossed the plate. He allowed four hits in four innings, three coming in the fourth. Matt Cyr got the final two outs of the inning, and Thomas Mulvey allowed the 10th run in the fifth inning on a walk-off walk by Mike Stegora.
Red Wing improved to 22-1.
Red Wing 10, JM 0
WP — Zach Garner. LP — Ryan Lakin.
SB — RW, Ryan Boldt 3. RBI — RW, Zach Garner, Mike Stegora 2, Dillon Lewis, Joel Newman 2, Dayton Johnson. R — RW, Garner, David Goggin, Boldt, Stegora, Ty Buck, Newman, Jack Strusz, Johnson, Preston Blaney, Aaron Foley.