Bailey Nickel

Senior catcher Bailey Nickel completes a successful tag at home against Janesville Craig in Milton’s season opener on March 27.

Kris Agnew knew that a couple of tough games against Janesville Craig and Verona would be a great way to see where his Red Hawks measured up early in the season.

After two defeats to the pair of Big Eight teams, it would seem the Milton High School baseball team will have some growing to do.

Despite out-hitting Craig 12-7, the Red Hawks were defeated by the Cougars, 15-4, in the team’s season-opening game on Wednesday, March 27, at Riverside Park in Janesville.

“We certainly came in here expecting to be more competitive than we were,” Milton head coach Kris Agnew said. “Pretty slow to come out of the gates. We didn’t do a good job of challenging them, making them earn their runs.”

A day later Milton fell to Verona, 9-4, in a non-conference away game at Stampfl Field in Verona.

Craig 15, Milton 4

In the Red Hawks’ first game of the year, it was sophomore Evan Jackson who got the start on the mound for Milton.

Craig got to Jackson early as Eric Hughes started off the game with a bang with a lead-off home run.

Craig would go on to add-on four more runs in the inning.

“Young kid making his varsity debut,” Agnew said. “To start with a home run, obviously anybody that was watching him knew it rattled him a little bit. He’s still going to be a big guy for us, throw tons of big innings for us and we have tons of confidence in him.”

Senior Memphis Moore got the Red Hawks’ first RBI of the season in the bottom of the first, the only score Milton would get in the inning.

Craig got another run in the second to make it 6-1.

After a scoreless bottom of the second, junior Hunter Pernot took the mound for Milton in the top of the third, as he retired the first three batters he saw.

The bottom of the third looked promising for Milton, but the Red Hawks had runners thrown out at home and at second base for two of the three outs.

“We have a couple issues to clean up in our base running,” Agnew said. “I hold myself accountable too, I made a couple of mistakes at third base, some things I would do different that took us out of some innings.”

The Cougars added on two more runs in the top of the fourth.

Dan Blomgren blew the game open in the top of the fifth with a grand slam to give Craig a 12-1 advantage.

The Red Hawks responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning thanks to a double from Moore, which scored two runs.

The teams went scoreless in the sixth. Craig scored three runs in the final inning while Milton added on one more for the final of 15-4.

Junior Colin Schuetz recorded a game-high four hits in the defeat.

Verona 9, Milton 4

Down 1-0 in the top of the third, the Red Hawks grabbed their first lead of the year thanks to a three-run inning.

However, the Wildcats responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning.

Verona held a one-run advantage through the next two innings until the sixth when the Wildcats piled on five runs.

Down six runs, the Red Hawk rally in the top of seventh fell short with just a single run.

Milton had their chances against Verona, as the team left 10 runners on base.

Schuetz once again led Milton at plate with a team-high two hits.

Juniors Fletcher Terrill and Ethan Haefner pitched three innings a piece. Terrill ended the contest with 0 earned runs and four strikeouts.

Milton played Edgewood in a Badger South Conference opening-game on Tuesday, but results were not available by publication time. The Red Hawks also will play Edgewood on Thursday at Mansfield Park in Madison. First pitch is set for 7:45 p.m.

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