BASEBALL: Flyers’ soph stops Brainerd
Josh Wenzel is only a sophomore, but he’s in his second varsity season and pitching like a seasoned veteran.
The right-hander spun a complete game Friday and home runs by Joe Tuholsky and Joey Hanowski and four doubles backed Wenzel in a 9-3 win over the Brainerd Warriors in Central Lakes Conference play at Adamson Field.
Wenzel allowed seven hits, three earned runs and three walks while striking out four. He contributed a two-run double in the seventh that scored the Flyers’ final runs.
“I was comfortable with every pitch because I knew my fielders behind me were going to back me up,” Wenzel said. “I didn’t strike many people out, I usually don’t, but when you have good fielders behind you, you’re confident in every pitch.
“When you’re pitching, and you have a lot of runs, you feel comfortable out there. You’re loose, just ready to go.”
Flyers coach John Hanowski said Wenzel has been steady all season.
“He’s got three pitches,” Hanowski said. “What I like about him is he’s really a competitor. When it got to crunch time he said, ‘Give me the ball.’ The last inning he had a little pop and hit spots. He’s an impressive young man.”
The only runs Wenzel allowed scored on RBI doubles by Bruce London (first inning) and by Mitch McLain (fourth) and on Dan Rhoda’s RBI single in the seventh.
McLain was the only Warrior with two hits as Brainerd hit the ball hard but suffered its second loss in two nights.
“I don’t know if it’s an Internet thing where we can look up and see our standings, I don’t know if that started us thinking about the wrong things, but it’s possible,” Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. “We’ve got a week to regroup here.
“What we need real bad right now is some practice time, so hopefully we’ll get some decent weather so we can get in a couple good practices.”
Joey Hanowski and Spencer Fenske each had two of the Flyers’ 10 hits, which helped Little Falls erase the memory of a 5-3 loss to Fergus Falls a night earlier.
“We got seven hits the last two games combined (before Friday),” John Hanowski said. “(Thursday) night against Fergus we left runners on. We had second and third and nobody out and didn’t score. We were ahead 3-1 and really let one slip away. They threw a kid that’s probably their fourth guy, so (hitting is) crazy.”
Warrior pitchers Blaine Bubalo, Chris Sausen and Logan Peterson combined to strike out six, but walked six and allowed 10 earned runs.
The Flyers opened the scoring in the first when Bob Munnell walked with the bases loaded.
Little Falls surged ahead 4-1 in the third as Fenske ripped a two-run double and Collin Eckman a run-scoring single.
Tuholsky’s leadoff home run in the fourth, followed by Munnell’s RBI double, put Little Falls up 6-1.
Joey Hanowski added an inside the park home run in the sixth as Warriors center fielder Patrick Skogen ran into the fence chasing the ball and fell down while Hanowski circled the bases.
“We’re a young team, but an experienced team,” John Hanowski said. “A lot of these kids played last year. Wenzel played as a freshman, Fenske played some as a freshman. We’re starting three sophomores. Our shortstop (Eckman) does a real nice job.
“They’re starting to feel a little more comfortable too in their play, and feeling like they belong.”
Little Falls 103 201 2 — 9 10 1
Brainerd 100 100 1 — 3 7 0
Little Falls: Josh Wenzel and Joey Hanowski.
Brainerd: Blaine Bubalo, Chris Sausen (3), Logan Peterson (4) and Bruce London.
W: Wenzel. L: Bubalo (2-1).
2B: Spencer Fenske (LF), Joey Hanowski (LF), Bob Munnell (LF), Wenzel, London, Mitch McLain (B)
HR: Joe Tuholsky (LF), Joey Hanowski
SB: Joey Hanowski, Collin Eckman (LF)
RBIs: Munnell 2, Fenske 2, Eckman, Tuholsky, Joey Hanowski, Wenzel 2, London, McLain, Dan Rhoda (B)
DP: LF 1
LOB: LF 9, Brd 7
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.