Pitching and timely hitting carries Rails to opening win
In the 2006 season, the Proctor Rails pitching staff logged 14 complete games to help earn 10 wins.
One of the pitchers who contributed to those games last year was Jon Kent, who toed the rubber against Milaca on Thursday night in the Metrodome in the 2007 season opener in front of 90 fans. In seven complete innings, Kent showed his dominance allowing only two Milaca hits, walking none, and striking out nine of the Wolves hitters.
In addition to Kent's performance, the Rails were able to play consistent defense and get some timely hits against a tough Milaca pitching staff with the biggest hit coming in the bottom of the seventh inning from senior catcher Drew Scherber.
After an Eric Makitalo single to lead off the seventh inning, Scherber pounded an Alex Hass fastball down the left field line and to the wall. Senior Justin Smith (pinch-running for Makitalo) wheeled around the bases on the double and scored from first to break a 1-1 tie and give the Rails the victory.
Scherber finished the game with two hits.
Scoring the other run in the fourth inning for the Rails was sophomore Tim Nylund.
The Rails are 1-0 and will leave for their annual spring trip to Beloit, Wisconsin, on Monday for four days before continuing their regular season on Monday, April 16, at Moose Lake.
(Proctor Rails Baseball Website)
Proctor 2, Milaca 1
At Milaca [sic]. WP--Jon Kent 7IP 2H, 0ER, 9K, 0BB. P -- Drew Scherber 2H (3B), game-winning RBI in 7th; Justin Smith scored winning run.
(Duluth News Tribune, April 6, 2007)
On safari: BB opens with win over Milaca at the Dome
by The Sports Guy
It's a very strange thing to snowblow your driveway so you can drive 150 miles to watch a baseball game played indoors. But this is Northern Minnesota and a high school baseball team does what it can. The Proctor baseball team opened their 2007 season against Milaca at the Metrodome on Thurs., April 5. After spotting the Wolves a 1-0 lead for nearly the entire game, the Rails pulled out a 2-1 win in the eleventh hour.
The Metrodome itself is one of those facilities that looks great when filled with thousands of screaming fans but pretty much resembles a deserted Alcatraz before people arrive. Even the echoes have echoes. But two teams warming up on the field below quickly removes the feeling of vast emptiness. That, and dropping 20 seating levels.
Fired up, Milaca takes a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a single that drives in the first Wolves batter, who had hit a double to get on base and moved to third on a steal. Amazingly, this single run would hold up over the next four innings.
"I was a little disappointed in our mental approach early in the game," said Rails head coach Tim Rohweder, beginning his eighth year with the team. "The guys were just too passive. We needed to stiffen up on defense."
The Rails did just that, holding the Wolves scoreless while threatening at the plate. But despite a walk to senior Drew Scherber and singles by senior Jon Podgornik and sophomore James Ostrander, Proctor couldn't drive in any runs. Finally, the bottom of the fourth inning saw Proctor roll doubles to get on the board--three, in fact. First, sophomore Tim Nylund connected on a solid hit to left center for a sliding double. Next up, junior Andrew Nylund blasted a near-identical double that sent Tim to third. Inspired, sophomore Charlie Habermann walloped his own double, scoring Tim to tie the game 1-1 with Andrew being thrown out at the plate by an incredible acrobatic tag by the Wolves catcher. Milaca went three up, three out, the Rails defense doing its job, especially in the infield.
Rohweder was pleased: "Because of the seniors we lost to graduation, we started all sophs in the infield this game. I thought they did a great job after that first inning."
Also helping the cause was senior Jon Kent on the pitching mound. Kent, who split time last season with Dan Carlson and now-junior Kevin Schubert, played Iron Man this game, going the distance with an impressive fastball and change-up that left the Milaca batters muttering to themselves.
"Jon has improved tremendously since last year," smiled Rohweder. "His fastball velocity has increased to where he is consistently in the 80s (miles per hour). We were limiting him to 100 pitches before sending in relief. But he was so hot on strikes, he ended up only throwing around 80 pitches for the game."
Only once did Kent appear to falter. In the top of the seventh, back-to-back Milaca batters connected--one a big hit that was foul by only three feet. But Kent impressively kept his cool to retire the side scoreless. Kent himself had earlier connected solidly to nearly break open the game in the sixth with a near-home run to the right stands that ended up foul by three feet. Milaca then pulled their pitcher. Kent would finish the game with nine strikeouts while allowing only two hits.
With Proctor up to bat in the bottom of the seventh--and the next game players from Chaska and Shakopee as audience--the Rails pulled out the win. Sophomore Eric Makitalo singled; speedy senior Justin Smith then took over as base runner.
That brought up Scherber, who blasted a shot down the left foul line for a double, driving in Smith for the 2-1 victory.
The Rails, Rohweder, and assistant coaches Anthony Bush, Matt Bailey, and Bob Eastman won a thrilling game. Nonetheless, Rohweder urged caution.
"I reminded the guys we have plenty to work on this season. Tonight, we had good pitching and good defense. But hitting takes time. If we hit in the playoffs like we hit tonight, we won't win anything. This game was typical for early season--the hitting was way behind the pitching. We can, and will, do better."
The Rails headed off to their annual training camp in the Beloit, Wisconsin, area last Monday. While there, they will work on all elements of their game, with several scrimmages with area teams on the agenda. A road game against Moose Lake-Willow River is on tap for Mon., April 16, with the first home game at Egerdahl scheduled for Thurs., April 19.
(Proctor Journal, April 12, 2007)
Recap for the 04/05/2007 game vs. Milaca
Pitching and timely hitting carries Rails to opening win