There wasn’t much Justin Hanson could say after his McFarland Muskies ended up losing Sunday at Albion 7-6 in 11 innings in Home Talent League baseball action.
Hanson, who came on in relief in the ninth inning with the game tied 6-6, threw a good pitch to Adam Gregory to start the 11th. Gregory pounded the ball into deep right center field as McFarland outfielders Chad Herbst and Brent Sufack gave chase. By the time the ball was thrown back to the infield, Gregory had safely crossed the plate standing up as the Albion fans joyfully hooted and hollered for their hero.
“It was a fast ball down and away,” said Hanson, who also serves as team manager.
Kyle White, who was behind the plate catching in place of the injured Nick Knoche, said he was surprised as where Gregory placed the ball, because it was on the outer fringes of the strike zone.
“It didn’t think he was going to pull it. I thought he was going to go opposite field,” White said. “But he got every bit of that ball.”
It was McFarland’s fourth loss in a row and dropped the team to a 3-8 record. Three Muskies losses this season have been by one run.
The win gave Albion a 12-1 mark and assured another trip to the playoffs for the Tigers, who won the league championship twice this decade (2011, 2016). The loss dropped the Muskies from playoff consideration in the league’s Eastern Section.
The pitching of McFarland’s talented right-hander, Nick Schreiber, kept the Muskies in the game and gave the team opportunities to come back from deficits twice. He ended with six strikeouts and three walks in eight innings, and allowed five earned runs on 11 hits.
“Nick threw very well,” said White. “They started picking up on things the second or third time in the lineup.”
McFarland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning as leadoff man Eric Seeliger had a base hit and moved to second on Herbst’s walk. Greg Riese singled to load the bases for Schreiber, who pounded a base hit to drive in Seeliger. White followed with a fielder’s choice to drive in Herbst. Albion tied the game with two runs in the second inning and took the lead in the fifth to lead 3-2.
Albion starter Cullen Oren retired 13 McFarland hitters in a row before the Muskies knotted things up in the sixth as Schreiber grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Herbst from third.
McFarland grabbed a 5-3 lead in the eighth with a two-run rally. Seeliger led off with a single and Herbst walked.
After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Schreiber cracked another RBI base hit to drive in Seeliger. Herbst later scored from third when Schreiber stole second base, and the catcher’s throw to second base drifted into the outfield.
Yet, the lead didn’t hold as Albion put together a three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth. One run scored on a ground-rule triple, a second on an infield single and the third on a wild pitch.
Trailing 6-5 entering the top of the ninth inning, the Muskies offense manufactured the game-tying run as Hanson led off with a walk and later scored on a fielder’s choice by Sufack.
Hanson hit the Albion first batter he faced in the ninth but gave up no runs or hits until Gregory’s homer in the eleventh.
“We had a couple of mental errors on the base paths,” Hanson said. “We are still a young team, but our chemistry is getting better with every game. You can see the guys learning how each other plays.”
McFarland had eight hits with Schreiber, Seeliger, Riese and Noah Punzel each getting two. Gregory led the Tigers with four of the team’s 12 hits.
The Muskies are back in action 1 p.m. Sunday with a road game against 1-10 Lake Mills. McFarland took a 6-1 win over the Grays on June 23.
Hanson said his team will relax in its final five regular season games, and hopefully, some of the younger players will get some time on the field.
“Now, it’s just playing for fun, I guess,” Hanson said. “We have Lake Mills next week, and they are at the bottom of the barrel. Hopefully, we can pull out a win against them.”
Braves 8, Montello 3
Jordan Carlson had three hits including a home run as Monona defeated the Granite-Jaxx at Montello.
Starting pitcher Dan Genrich took the win after striking out four and walking one in eight innings. He allowed three earned runs and nine hits, before reliever Andy Swanson took over the mound in the ninth and struck out the side.
Kian O’Brien had four of Monona’s 13 hits, and Beau Goff contributed two. Genrich also pounded a home run for the Braves, which improved to 6-4 to tie Montello for the fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Section. The Braves travel to Sun Prairie Sunday with the first pitch scheduled for noon.
DeForest 6, Firemen 5
Graham Schroeder-Gasser had three hits including a double and Paul Patten pounded a home run, but Cottage Grove lost a pivotal Eastern Section game against the host Deacons.
DeForest jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning before the Firemen tied the game with two runs in the seventh and three in the ninth.
Yet, DeForest put across the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
Starting pitcher Pat Hawker threw five innings and allowed two earned runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and three walks.
Jordon Gomez came on in relief in the sixth and recorded four strikeouts and three walks.
The teams combined for seven errors, four by Cottage Grove.
The Firemen host Montello 1 p.m. Sunday at Fireman’s Park.
Thursday Night League
Monona/McFarland won its first game of the night league seasoan with a 7-3 win over Verona on July 11. The co-op hosts Belleville tonight with the first pitch scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Cottage Grove night squad lost its first game to Cambridge 5-3 at Jones Park in Fort Atkinson.
The Firemen, which entered the game against the Blues with four straight wins, hosts Jefferson 8 p.m. tonight at Fireman’s Park.