Janesville Cougars have Cards’ number
With winds intermittently whipping and the temperature reaching the upper 70s at Riverside Park, the Cougars slugged out 11 hits and went
6-for-10 with runners in scoring position to sweep the regular-season series and knock the Cardinals from the top of the Big Eight.
Sun Prairie fell to 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the conference, a full game behind Middleton
“It feels great to get two big wins against them, a first-place team,” said Craig High junior right fielder Tom Youcher, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. “I really think we can hang with anybody in the conference, and a (doubleheader with state-ranked) Middleton on Saturday is gonna be tough.”
The Cougars improved to
9-6 overall and 6-4 in the league after a timid performance at the plate in last Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Verona at Riverside.
Youcher, the Cougars’ left-handed cleanup hitter, got his first two RBIs by mashing a double off Sun Prairie starter Ryan Tanner just right of dead center, driving in Jameson Henning and Christian DeCremer to make it 2-0 in the first inning.
“We talked about it after the Verona game—about how defensive we were,” Craig coach Victor Herbst said. “Youcher’s double really helped set the tone for us that we could go out and swing on this kid. Then it gets kind of contagious.”
Youcher strayed from second base and got picked off by freshman catcher Zach Fairchild, essentially stalling the threat.
“Tommy Youcher’s a competitor who works really hard, and that was just him trying to be really aggressive,” Herbst said. “He does a great job of not taking it with him into the field or into the next at-bat.”
Youcher chopped an RBI single through the right side to bring in Mitch Perkins, who led off the third with a single before moving up on a passed ball. That RBI made it 3-1, with more runs to come in the third.
“I thought maybe I owed my team that one,” Youcher said. “Getting picked off was kind of embarrassing, actually.”
Craig third baseman Mitch Phillips spanked a single to the edge of the grass in center field before Dylan Hoskins singled through the middle of the infield to load the bases. Craig starting pitcher Mike Davis then staked himself to a 4-1 lead with an RBI walk that chased Tanner.
Michael Handel relieved Tanner and threw a wild pitch that allowed Phillips to score. Handel recorded the second out before junior catcher Charlie Meyer banged a single back through the box that scored two and gave Craig a 7-1 lead.
“We had some really key swings tonight with two outs, and that was a big at-bat for Charlie Meyer,” Herbst said.
The Cougars added an unearned run in the sixth when DeCremer scored with heads-up running on a throwing error. Leadoff man Jameson Henning made it 9-1 when he doubled into left center, scoring first baseman Kyle Ausen in the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, Davis handed the ball over with two outs after consecutive run-scoring singles by Tyler Patterson and Fairchild. The Cougars’ No. 2 starter was happy to be relieved by ace Cody Steed, who threw just 16 pitches to get the last four outs, two of which were strikeouts.
“Mikey Davis went above and beyond the call of duty tonight,” Herbst said. “We were hoping he’d get us into the fifth. Cody pitched even less than we figured.”
Last Thursday, Steed walked 11 and took a tough-to-swallow loss as he allowed just one hit in a complete game against Verona. On Tuesday, Davis and Steed combined for a six-hitter and held the Cardinals’ top four batters hitless in 13 at-bats.
Davis credited the Cougars’ offensive outburst with how cool he looked as he pounded the strike zone. He struck out three and walked just one while scattering six hits over 5 2/3 innings to get the win.
“It helps you relax when you walk out there in the second inning and you’ve already got a two-run lead,” Davis said. “That helps me settle down, throw strikes and know I’ve got eight guys behind me waiting to make plays.”
CRAIG 9, SUN PRAIRIE 3
Sun Prairie (ab-r-h-rbi)—Harmon, cf, 4-0-0-0; Butler, 2b, 4-0-0-0; Handel, ss/p, 2-1-0-0; Abbott, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Patterson, 3b, 3-1-1-1; Fairchild, c, 3-0-2-1; Tanner, p/ss, 3-0-1-0; Korenic, lf, 3-0-1-0; Peterson, lf, 3-0-1-0. Totals: 28-3-6-2.
Craig (ab-r-h-rbi)—Henning, ss, 3-1-1-1; Perkins, 2b, 4-1-1-0; DeCremer, cf, 4-2-2-0; Youcher, rf, 3-1-2-3; Phillips, 3-1-2-0; Hoskins, lf, 3-1-2-0; Davis, p, 1-1-0-1; Bloom, dh, 2-0-0-0; Ausen, 1b, 1-0-0-0; Meyer, c, 2-0-1-2. Totals: 26-9-11-7
Sun Prairie 010 002 0—3
Janesville Craig 205 011 0—9
E—Sun Prairie 1, Craig 1. LOB—Sun Prairie 5, Craig 5. 2B—Patterson, Tanner, Youcher. SB—Handel.
IP H R ER BB SO
Tanner (L) 2 1-3 7 7 7 3 1
Handel 3 2-3 4 2 1 2 4
Davis (W) 5 2-3 6 3 3 1 3
Steed 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 2