Royals’ rally falls short against Woodbury Central
REMSEN — Down to their final out and trailing by five, the MMCRU baseball team put together a two-out rally and scored three runs, but fell short of Woodbury Central by a 7-5 score in a Class 1A district semifinal game Tuesday, July 16.
Despite the loss, MMCRU Head Coach Cam Kuchel liked the way his team never gave up in the game.
“That’s just a testament to the way our seniors and our upperclassmen have been all year,” Kuchel said. “They just don’t go down without a fight.”
After the first two outs in the seventh, Dean Jenness hit a single to right and Jordan Marks followed with a base hit the other direction to left field. After going both directions, Cade Pepper sent his base hit straight up the middle which plated the first run of the inning. Joel Johnson added an RBI single to right field which spelled the end of the day for freshman pitcher Caleb Bliel who came in to pitch in the top of the third.
Eighth grader Max McGill was tasked with recording the final out. It wouldn’t come on the first batter he saw as Byron Carrillo sent an RBI single to shallow right-center field to put the potential game-tying run on base. McGill was able to get Evan Cluck to strike out to end the game.
The Wildcats scored twice in the first inning and answered a Royals run in the second before a lull for both offenses in the middle innings. The Royals pulled to within a run at 3-2 in the top of the sixth. Pepper knocked a base hit up the middle and Joel Johnson sent the ball right over the third base bag for a double. Carrillo was hit by a pitch to load the bases which led to a mound visit for the Wildcats. Cluck had an RBI ground out to score the run but with a chance to tie or pull in front with runners on second and third, KC Nicks hit one right back to the pitcher who threw to first for the final out of the inning.
Woodbury Central scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth as an error started the inning. The Wildcats found their rhythm at the plate against Johnson who threw the whole game in hot conditions at Marv Thelen Memorial Field.
“Joel, he doesn’t throw overly hard but he’s got good stuff and he hits his spots,” Kuchel said. “The only problem with him is about the third time around, he’s going to start seeing some contact. We start the inning off with a mistake, it’s hard to hone that back in. He pitched a great game honestly. We had three or four errors, if we bring that down to one or two it’s a whole different story.”
Ryan Jaacks hit a triple to score the first run and Jakob Schultz followed with an RBI double. Zac Rocha deadened the ball perfectly off the bat for a bunt base hit and the final two runs scored on RBI ground outs.
MMCRU finishes the season at 14-10 with seven seniors playing in their final game. Those seniors included Jenness, Marks, Cluck, Andrew Prescott, Joel Johnson, Conner Rassel and Jesse Perez. For first-year coach Kuchel, he said it was nice to be able to lean on the experience those seniors had.
“Being a first-year coach they’re an outstanding help to me, with the baseball IQ, the knowledge they had, the leadership skills they had, just helped me out in year one tremendously,” Kuchel said. “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill next year, a lot of baseball IQ to fill. Gonna have a lot of work in the offseason.”
Woodbury Central will return to Remsen on Saturday, July 20 to play Remsen St. Mary’s in the district final.
MMCRU 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 5
Wood. Central 2 1 0 0 0 4 x 7
MMCRU: Hits- 9; Walks- 5; 2B- J. Johnson; 3B- None; HR- None; RBI- Carrillo 2, J. Johnson 1; Pitching: Joel Johnson (L)- 6 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks.