Minnesota team rallies, hands Janesville first loss
Despite left fielder Charlie Platts going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and shortstop Nick Blomgren going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, Janesville dropped a 6-5 decision to the Hi-Tower League team from St. Paul, Minn., after seeing a four-run lead slip away.
“I felt more relaxed at the plate,” Blomgren said. “I was seeing the ball well. We were in the driver’s seat when we were up by four. But we got too relaxed when we were up by four runs.’’
As a result, Janesville fell to a 2-1 record in the National Division of pool play. It completes its round-robin schedule in the division at 6 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday against host Glen Allen.
The top three teams in each of the two pool-play divisions advance to the single-elimination championship series. Quarterfinals are Thursday, followed by the semifinals and championship game on Friday.
Janesville took early control against Hi-Tower by building a 4-0 lead in the first three innings. The Minnesota team came back at its own pace, scoring one run in the fourth, then two each in the fifth and sixth to force a 5-5 tie.
Brennan Olin reached base on an error to ignite Janesville’s three-run first inning. Blomgren doubled up the middle, sending Olin to third. Kevin Brandt then walked on a wild pitch, enabling Olin to score the first run.
With runners on second and third, Platts singled to left center, driving in Blomgren and Brandt to make it 3-0.
Blomgren doubled with one out in the third, advanced to third on Brandt’s infield out and made it 4-0 on an RBI single by Platts.
Hi-Tower pulled within 4-1 in the top of the fourth, but Janesville answered with its fifth run in the bottom of the inning. Logan Coulter singled, stole second, went to third on Connor Bowen’s single to left -center and scored on a wild pitch.
Brandt, Janesville’s relief pitcher, retired Jackson Buelow to start the top of the seventh. Joe Tierney then walked, and Riley Quinlan followed with a single, moving Tierney to second. A wild pitch advanced both runners a base.
Minnesota’s Sam Wackman put down a bunt in an attempt to squeeze in the lead run, but Tierney was out at home on the throw from Brandt to catcher Alex Marro. The next batter, Max Jackson, singled to left, scoring what proved to be the winning run.
Janesville went down in order in the bottom of the seventh. Blomgren grounded out, Brandt flew out to left, and Platts flew out to right.
“We just gave up too many outs, gave away too many free bases,” Janesville coach Ron Kobs said. “The better team won today. It’s our first loss this season.”
Even with his impressive stats in the game, Platts was focused on the team’s performance.
“I saw the ball well, swung the bat and it dropped every time,” Platts said. “But what matters is what the team did, not what two players did.”
Janesville had come off two impressive games, first winning 2-0 over Bridgewater, N.J., on Saturday. Blomgren threw a complete-game shutout, striking out five. Platts was 2-for-4 in that game.
The Ohio Valley champions followed with a win over Brazoswood, Texas, by outlasting the Southwest champions and the weather for an 8-5 victory on Sunday. Platts was 1-for-2 with two RBIs in that game, while Jarrod Hoffarth allowed six hits as the winning pitcher.
Looking ahead, Blomgren was confident Janesville will bounce back.
“We just gotta go out there, be in an angry mode and destroy every team,” he said.
Platts agreed with his teammate.
“We have to go out there and play Janesville baseball,’’ he said. “We need to forget this loss and play 110 percent the entire game, not just 100 percent.”
Janesville has today off, followed by Wednesday’s huge game against Glen Allen, which is 2-0 in the tournament and plays Bridgewater today.
Glen Allen and Janesville are two of the top teams in the National Division, making their showdown a possible battle for first place, although Hi-Tower (1-1) still may be in contention. The team that finishes first gets a bye into Friday’s semifinals.
“I think we’ll be fine,’’ Kobs said. “We’re playing some good teams, but we’re gonna work hard, and I think we’ll be fine.”
Kobs said the whole tournament experience has been great for his kids—win or lose.
“We’re loving it here,’’ he said. “The kids are having fun with the host families. The experience and the people here have been great. This facility is great.”
HI-TOWER 6, JANESVILLE 5
Hi-Tower (ab-r-h-rbi)—Jackson, c, 5-1-5-1; Wingerd, 2b-p, 5-0-1-0; Reis, 3b, 4-1-2-3; Mischke, cf, 3-0-0-0; Jacobsen, p-1b, 4-1-2-1; Buelow, lf, 3-0-0-0; Tierney, rf, 3-0-1-1; Quinlan, ss, 4-2-2-0; Knetsch, 1b, 0-0-0-0; Bird, ph, 1-0-0-0; Evans, ph, 1-0-0-0; Wackman, 1b-2b, 1-1-0-0. Totals: 34-6-13-6.
Janesville (ab-r-h-rbi)—Bowen, 3b-1b, 4-0-1-0; Olin, cf, 4-1-0-0; Blomgren, ss, 4-2-2-0; Brandt, 1b-p, 3-1-0-0; Platts, lf, 4-0-3-3; Faust, p-3b, 2-0-1-0; Welch, pr, 0-0-0-0; Marro, c, 2-0-0-0; Cox, 2b, 3-0-0-0; Coulter, rf, 3-1-1-0. Totals: 29-5-8-3.
Hi-Tower (Minn.) 000 122 1—6
Janesville 301 100 0—5
E—Hi-Tower 1, Janesville 2. DP—Hi-Tower 1. LB—Hi-Tower 11, Janesville 6. 2B—Jacobsen, Blomgren 2. SB—Jackson, Jacobsen, Bower, Platts 2, Coulter.
IP H R ER BB SO
Jacobsen 4 6 5 2 2 1
Wingerd (W, 1-0) 3 2 0 0 1 1
Faust 5 1/3 11 5 4 3 4
Brandt (L, 0-1) 1 2/3 2 1 1 1 1