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Early losses no worry for Carlos

Carlos shortstop Jake Tharaldson charges a ball before fielding it and throwing on to first for an out against the Osakis Hawks on Saturday night. Carlos won the game 8-0 to improve to 5-3. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The Carlos Cougars aren’t used to having three losses through their first eight games.

The last two seasons, the Cougars haven’t had to deal with a loss in the regular season at all. The end result wasn’t what they wanted it to be though after falling short of a state tournament berth in each of those years.

Carlos is now 5-3 but coming off a two-win weekend where the Cougars beat Sauk Centre 9-0 Friday and handed Osakis its first loss in an 8-0 game on Saturday. Carlos may have gotten off to a bit of a slow start by its own standards, but the goals remain the same for a group of veteran players.

“The state tournament is always our number one goal,” player and coach Aaron Noetzelman said. “We do have a couple more losses than we are used to but that’s never a bad thing. We haven’t’ made the state in three years I believe, and the last two years we’ve gone undefeated in the regular season and just come up short. Sometimes a loss is a good thing, gets the guys hungry and shows them we’re not invincible.”

The Cougars are still competing near the top of the Resorters East with teams like Alexandria and Long Prairie. Pitching and defense have kept Carlos in games again this year with a staff that has a team ERA of 1.72.

Mark Hillesheim is the catalyst with a team-high 23 innings pitched and a 1.96 ERA. He was on his game against Osakis on Saturday as he threw six shutout innings.

Hillesheim allowed just four hits and got out of a few jams after walking four. He struck out six to up his season total to 27.

“One thing that Mark’s progressing at is he’s hitting his spots and he’s mixing up his pitches a lot more than he has in the past,” Cougars second baseman Matt Hoelscher said. “He’s kind of learning how to be a better pitcher. He’s throwing with more confidence. He’s getting that breaking ball across, and he mixes it up really well.”

Hoelscher was part of an offense that broke through with a six-run sixth inning against the Hawks. Osakis’ Derek Waldvogel matched Hillesheim with five straight zeroes before running into trouble in that inning.

Carlos sent 11 men to the plate in the sixth. Hoelscher drove in the first run with an infield single as a part of a four-hit night for the former Alexandria Cardinal. Noetzelman and Neil Jenzen both had two-RBI singles in the sixth to open things up.

“I was just looking for something to drive,” Noetzelman said of his hit that made it a 3-0 game. “[Waldvogel] does a good job of working the outside corner, and he was getting us to reach all day and we were trying to pull the ball. Finally got a good pitch I could drive and just put a good swing on it.”

The eight runs against Osakis will almost always be enough to get a win with Carlos’ pitching staff. Noetzelman said he has six guys on the roster who he trusts can come in and get the job done in any situation throughout the game.

Former Alexandria Cardinal AJ Anderson has logged the second most innings on the team behind Hillesheim with 16. The hard-throwing righty has fanned 19 and walked 16, while posting an ERA of 2.25.

Anderson teamed up with Jay Schueler to toss a shutout in the win over Sauk Centre. Anderson went the first six and scattered four hits and five walks, while striking out four. Schueler allowed one hit and two walks in three innings. Jake Tharaldson, Neil Jenzen and Ben Bruggeman have also posted good numbers on the mound this summer.

“Every year we got a lot of depth at pitching,” Hoelscher said. “We just got to get guys who can get some innings. If we can shore up our pitching, our defense is good. We’re a little lackadaisical here the last couple games as far as getting runs across. It kind of takes us a while to get going, but we feel if we get out there and see more pitches and get used to the style of play that we can do some damage at region time.”


CARLOS 000 006 200 – 8 13 1

OSAKIS 000 000 000 – 0 6 0

CARLOS PITCHING – Hillesheim – W, 6IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 4BB, 6SO; Jenzen – 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 2SO; Tharaldson – 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO

CARLOS OFFENSE – Noetzelman – 1-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI, 1 run; Tim Ehli – 0-1; Tharaldson – 1-3, 2 BB, 1 run; Ryan Severson – 2-4, 2 RBI; Greg Nathe – 0-1; Brad Nyberg – 1-5; Jenzen – 2-4, BB, 1 run, 2 RBI; Anderson – 0-4; Gideon Burnham – 1-3, 2 BB, SB, 2 runs; Justin Steidl – 0-2; Ben Bruggeman – 1-2, 3B, BB, 2 runs, RBI; Hoelscher – 4-4, 1 run, 2 RBI

SAUK CENTRE 000 000 000 – 0 5 4

CARLOS 012 321 000 – 9 9 1

CARLOS PITCHING – Anderson – W, 6IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 5BB, 4SO; Schueler – 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 1SO

CARLOS OFFENSE – Noetzelman – 2-3, 2 runs, SB; Tim Ehli – 0-2, RBI; Tharaldson – 1-4, BB; Severson – 1-3, BB, 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Nyberg – 1-3, BB; Hillesheim – 0-1; Anderson – 1-4, 1 run; Burnham – 1-3, 1 run, HBP; Nathe – 1-3, BB, 2 runs; Bruggeman – 0-2, 2 BB; Schueler – 1-4, 2 runs

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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