Resorters baseball: Cougars poised for state tourney run
This past Saturday, it was Joe Snaza's turn to do what seemingly every pitcher has done for the Carlos Cougars this summer.
The Cougars came into their game against Resorters East foe Miltona with a team ERA of 1.29. Snaza then went out and lowered it to 1.12 with another gem in a 14-0 win that moved his team to 10-0 on the season.
Snaza had everything working for him on Saturday as he limited the Tigers to just three hits through eight innings. He struck out 10, including taking care of the side himself in the seventh inning. That upped his season totals to 29 strikeouts and no runs allowed in 17 innings of work.
"Seemed like the slider was probably the best pitch today, a lot of movement," Snaza said. "Had a little bit of trouble with the curveball early in the game but seemed to get control of that in the later part."
The Cougars needed that kind of performance from Snaza for much of the afternoon. Alexandria's Shawn Krueger matched him pitch-for-pitch through seven innings before running into trouble in an eighth inning that saw the Cougars score 13 runs and send 19 guys to the plate.
Carlos was clinging to a 1-0 lead going into that frame when things got away from Miltona. The Tigers used three pitchers in the inning but couldn't find an answer for a Cougars' lineup that kept piling on.
Ryan Severson book-ended the eighth after leading off with a single and recording the final out in his third at-bat. The score was 9-0 when Neil Jenzen came to the plate for the second time. He put away any hope the Tigers had left by lining a pitch over the right-field fence for a grand slam that gave him five RBIs in the inning.
"Bases loaded, I'm just looking for something to drive," Jenzen said. "I fouled off a couple tough pitches and got one to swing at again. I got a good piece of wood on it."
The win over the Tigers was a continuation of what Carlos has been doing all summer. The Cougars' closest contest came in a 2-0 win over a good Brandon-Evansville team on May 5. They have won the other seven games they have played (two wins came by forfeit) by a combined score of 101-9.
It's a Cougars team that is focused on one thing - getting back to a state tournament this August. Carlos had its stretch of seven straight appearances snapped last summer with losses to Bertha and Staples in the Region 14C Tournament. Those are losses that still linger on the minds of a roster full of veterans who aren't used to losing.
"We want to get back," Jenzen said. "It starts from our ballpark. We take care of our ball field. Everybody helps out. We build a shed, everybody's there to help out, so we put some time and effort into everything. When we get to the field, we want to have fun and part of that is winning."
Snaza echoed those sentiments. He is part of a pitching staff that has been almost unhittable through the first 10 games. Snaza, Ben Bruggeman and Nate Hoelscher have combined to start six of the eight games the Cougars have played. None of them have allowed an earned run as they have combined to strike out 71 in 43 innings of work.
"I honestly think it's chemistry," Snaza said. "Everybody picks each other up. When we come out, we play hard and we come to win. We want to win. We want to get to state again. That's just how it is."
Carlos would seem to be a tough out if it can get there. On top of that pitching staff, the Cougars are hitting .367 as a team after this past weekend.
Carlos has gone into state tournaments with talented rosters during its recent seven-year run. The Cougars' best finish came in 2005 when they finished third.
Jenzen said this year's roster strikes a better balance of having youth and experience at its disposal. The Cougars hope that will be the difference for a team that would love nothing more than to return to state, and this time, finish the job.
"I've been on this roster for five years," Snaza said. "Every year I want to get to state. Every year I want to win. If we win state, I don't know. I think the entire town of Carlos would go nuts."
CARLOS 000 001 0(13) - 14 14 0
MILTONA 000 000 00 - 0 3 4
CARLOS PITCHING - Snaza - W, 8IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 4BB, 10SO
CARLOS HITTING - Aaron Noetzelman - 0-5, HBP, 1 run, RBI; Ryan Severson - 3-6, 3 runs, RBI; Snaza - 3-5, 2 runs, RBI; Brad Nyberg - 0-2, BB; Cameron Sundlee - 0-1, 1 run, RBI; Jenzen - 2-4, HR, BB, 2 runs, 5 RBI, 2SB; Justin Steidl - 2-4, BB, 2 runs, RBI, SB; Jake Tharaldson - 1-4, BB, 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Justin Cummins - 2-5, 1 run; Dave Schjenken - 1-3, BB, 1 run, RBI