Cougars swipe bases, beat Milton to open season

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John Barry
Saturday, April 5, 2014

MILTON--Janesville Craig’s baseball team ran wild on Milton on Saturday afternoon.

The Cougars finished with nine stolen bases, including four from Wyatt Olson, in a 7-5 nonconference win.

Craig was outhit 8-6, but it took advantage of eight walks and three Milton errors in winning its season opener.

“It was a typical first game,” Craig coach Vic Herbst said. “We did some good things, played pretty solid defensively, but certainly have some things to work on.

“I thought our pitchers threw behind in the count a little bit too much. We didn’t hit the ball all that hard, but we ran the bases very well and got out of here with a win.”

With the game tied 2-2 in the third, Craig took the lead for good. Nick Blomgren walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second when Kevin Brandt was hit by a pitch. Alex Marro’s sacrifice bunt advanced both runners, and Blomgren scored on McCauley Cox’s RBI groundout.

The Cougars made it 5-2 in the fourth. Olson singled, stole second and scored on an error. Blomgren’s sacrifice fly plated the other run.

Milton, which had three extra-base hits, was also playing its season opener.

“All things considered, it was a positive afternoon, because it’s the first time we were able to get on a full diamond and actually play,” Milton coach Ryan Neuenschwander said.

“We had a lot of guys step up and do a lot more than I thought they were going to do today. I think 17 guys got into the game at some point, and I really thought all 17 of them did something positive for us.”

Milton cut the lead to 5-3 in the fifth with an unearned run, but Craig answered with two in the sixth. Olson scored on a wild pitch, while Brandt drove in Craig’s final run with an RBI single.

The Red Hawks made it close in the seventh. Tyler Westrick scored on Evan Whitehead’s RBI triple, and Robert Guenther’s RBI single scored Whitehead to make it 7-5.

With both teams playing their opener, a total of nine pitchers were used. Alex Faust started for Craig and picked up the win. Sophomore Chase Nyborg was the most effective pitcher for Craig, throwing two scoreless innings.

“For the first time out, I thought our pitching was OK,” Herbst said. “Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job of throwing strikes, but we did make some good pitches when we had to.

“I think more than anything, we’re just happy to get outside and get a game in.”

Craig opens the Big Eight Conference season Tuesday at Madison East.

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