Mitchell Woelfle can see the end is near.
The Janesville Craig pitcher has about two and a half months of high school left, and he’s doing his best to take full advantage of those limited days.
Woelfle, an Air Force Academy recruit, continued his impressive start to the baseball season Tuesday. He struck out 12 batters and allowed just two hits over six innings as the Cougars shut out crosstown rival Janesville Parker 7-0 at Riverside Park.
“I’ve kind of realized I leave for Air Force in 80 days,” Woelfe said. “So I might as well give it everything I’ve got right now.”
Woelfle was never tested Tuesday. He retired 12 of the first 13 batters he saw, including racking up seven strikeouts in the opening three innings. He allowed a pair of singles and walked one batter.
“A solid mix of two-seam and four-seam fastballs, just kept them off-balance,” Woelfle said. “And Clark (Schmaling) did a great job behind home plate, making borderline calls into strikes. He got a bunch of them for me.”
The Cougars leaned on Woelfle as they struggled for the first time this season to get untracked offensively. They had won each of their first four games via the 10-run mercy rule but had just two hits in the first five innings against the Vikings.
Those two hits both came in the first inning, as Micah Overley ripped a one-out single to score Schmaling and Dan Blomgren, who had both walked, and Tressin Kussmaul followed with a single of his own—though Parker escaped any further damage.
The Cougars were not without baserunners, however. They drew eight walks on top of their six hits and stole nine bases. But five of Craig’s six runners left on base were stranded in scoring position.
“We had too many scoring opportunities where we were left on base,” Cougars coach Victor Herbst said. “When we’ve got runners on, you want to be hunting fastballs, attack the baseball and be aggressive. We’ve got to move runners.
“But defense and pitching were solid again.”
Parker trailed just 3-0 into the sixth inning but never got a rally going.
“We were feeling pretty good for about five innings, and it just kind of fell apart there at the end,” Vikings coach Kerry Michaels said. “If we just make the routine play and limit our walks, it’s a really competitive game.”
Dylan King came on in relief of starter Cody Rhyner in the third inning and retired eight of the first nine hitters he faced.
The Cougars finally got back in the hit column in the sixth. Gavin Kilen smacked a one-out single to right and scored two batters later on Tegan Christiansen’s sharp single to left in an 0-2 count. Schmaling later delivered a two-out, two-run Texas-league double to center to make it 7-0.
Schmaling scored twice and stole two bases. Blomgren had an RBI triple and stole two bases, as well.
Parker and Craig are scheduled to meet again Thursday evening, though forecasts do not look favorable the rest of the week.
CRAIG 7, PARKER 0
Parker (ab-r-h-rbi)—Meyer, ss, 3-0-0-0; Stone, 2b, 2-0-0-0; Emerson, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Madsen, cf, 3-0-0-0; Mair, lf, 3-0-1-0; Klukas, c, 2-0-0-0; Simons, 3b, 1-0-0-0; King, p, 2-0-0-0; O’Leary, rf, 2-0-1-0; Rhyner p-3b, 2-0-0-0. Totals: 23-0-2-0.
Craig (ab-r-h-rbi)—Hughes, cf, 3-0-0-0; Schmaling, c, 3-2-1-2; Blomgren ,ss, 2-2-1-1; Overley, 1b-3b, 4-0-1-2; Kussmaul, lf, 3-0-1-0; Herbst, dh, 1-0-0-0; Woelfle, p, 0-0-0-0; Clark, 1b, 0-0-0-0; Kilen, 3b-p, 3-1-1-0; Hesseling, 2b, 1-1-0-0; Christiansen, rf, 3-1-1-1. Totals: 23-7-6-6.
Janesville Parker 000 000 0—0
Janesville Craig 201 004 x—7
E—Parker 2. LOB—Parker 4, Craig 6. SB—Hughes, Schmaling 2, Blomgren 2, Kussmaul 2, Herbst, Hesseling. 2B—Schamling. 3B—Blomgren.
Parker IP H R ER BB SO
Rhyner 2 2/3 2 3 2 6 1
King 3 1/3 4 4 4 2 2
Woelfle (W) 6 2 0 0 1 12
Kilen 1 0 0 0 1 1