Resorters baseball: Two teams, same dream
Two of the best teams in the Resorters Baseball League met up on Sunday in Evansville looking to accomplish many of the same goals.
The Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs and the Carlos Cougars gave fans the kind of game they expected between two first-place teams. Brandon-Evansville struck early, building a 7-3 lead before the Cougars eventually rallied for an 8-7 win.
"We always play Carlos close," Bluedogs' third baseman Josh Meissner said. "Every year, it's always a battle because we're basically the two best teams year in and year out for the last few years."
It's no different this season, which is why Sunday's game had a little bit of a playoff feel to it for two teams that hope to get back to the state tournament after falling short of that goal in recent years. Getting back to that level is something both these squads take very seriously. That's why, win or lose, they both appreciated the opportunity to play each other this late in the season.
"We always want to win," Brandon-Evansville pitcher Collin Modahl said. "But I went into the dugout and said, 'This is a game we needed.' Win or lose, these are the games we need because we haven't had that many clutch match-ups, that many jams that we've had to get out of, playing some of the other competition in the area. Playing against a team that presses you and plays that regional-type baseball is a great thing. I hope they got the same thing out of it as we got, which is great at-bats and pitching."
Modahl got the start for the Bluedogs and allowed just three runs through four innings before getting taken out to save his arm for a July 4 game against Ashby. Modahl has a perfect 4-0 record with a 1.24 ERA in 29 innings pitched.
He's part of a staff that has put up some good numbers through the regular season. Former Alexandria Cardinal Shawn Krueger worked two innings against the Bluedogs and has a 3.83 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.
"We will see better pitching in regions, so it was nice to play Brandon at this time of the year," the Cougars' Matt Hoelscher said. "It's good to face good pitchers, guys who can throw curveballs, paint the black. You got to be real disciplined as a hitter."
Hoelscher is part of a Carlos pitching staff that has mowed down much of the competition this season, as well. Their team ERA stood at 1.30 in the regular season after wrapping up an East Division title by moving to 13-0 on Sunday.
Hoelscher got the win over the Bluedogs by throwing five scoreless innings. Mark Hillesheim started and gave up seven runs, four earned, in four innings but still featured a 1.59 ERA on the season with 45 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched.
Nate Hoelscher dominated Ashby in a 10-1 win last Friday by fanning 15 in six innings of work,.and Jay Schueler allowed just one run in eight innings during a 5-1 win over Swanville a day later. The Cougars also have former Alexandria Cardinal AJ Anderson (2-0, 1.64 ERA, 22IP) and Justin Steidl (7IP, 1.29 ERA, 9SO) to help make this a pitching staff that looks built for the playoffs.
"If we get everybody here, we have about six, seven guys that can pitch," M. Hoelscher said. "It's kind of nice when you know you can go four, five deep and you still have some horses there that can pitch...I think we're real confident, mainly because we know we've played real solid defense. We have guys behind us who can make the play. Whether it's Mark, AJ, myself, my brother Nate or whoever, we're confident in anybody we send up there."
The Bluedogs showed the kind of lineup they have by putting up seven runs against the Cougars. That's the most runs Carlos has given up this season and totaled the amount they had allowed in their previous four games combined.
"We haven't been really challenged like this yet this year," Carlos' Brad Nyberg said. "It was an important game for us because it's the last game before playoffs. We wanted to finish strong against good competition. They are the best team we've played this year, by far."
Both teams could say that after Sunday's contest. It was exactly the kind of test that each group was looking for as they get ready to play in the Resorters League playoffs and hopefully a region tournament and beyond.
"We want to go do well at regionals, go to state and ultimately try to win a state tournament," Modahl said. "We need to have the right arms, avoid injuries and all that stuff, but I think we have a lot of the same goals as Carlos does. I think that's why you see that mentality where we both want to get after each other and see who can win the game."
CARLOS 003 002 021 - 8 15 3
B-E 105 100 000 - 7 12 1
CARLOS PITCHING - Hillesheim - 4IP, 8H, 7R, 4ER, 0BB, 2SO; M. Hoelscher - W, 5IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1SO
B-E PITCHING - Modahl - 4IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 2SO; Krueger - 3IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3SO; Ryan Hendrickson - L, 2IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 2SO
CARLOS OFFENSE - Aaron Noetzelman - 2-5, 1 run; Jake Tharaldson - 2-4, 3B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Schueler - 3-5, 2 runs, RBI; Nyberg - 3-5, 2 runs, RBI; Gideon Burnham - 1-4, BB, 1 run; Anderson - 2-5, RBI; J. Steidl - 0-3, RBI; Dave Schjenken - 0-1; Ryan Severson - 1-4, RBI; M. Hoelscher - 1-4, 1 run
B-E OFFENSE - Modahl - 2-5, 2B, 1 run; Nate Meissner - 1-4, 1 run, RBI; Chris Shea - 3-4, HR, HBP, 2 runs, RBI; Hendrickson - 2-4, RBI, BB; Monte Hinzmann - 1-5, 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Krueger - 0-4; Mike Bruns - 0-1; Brent Meissner - 1-5, RBI; Nolan Bartholomew - 1-4, 1 run; J. Meissner - 1-4, 1 run