Spartans punch ticket to next round with 4-2 win
Spartan eighth grader Riley Miller was the star of the game pitching seven innings, striking out nine batters, and allowing just two runs in a 4-2 victory over the Audubon Wheelers.
Miller also knocked in two runs at the plate, including one in the bottom of the 3rd inning and one in the bottom of the 5th.
“I think there was definitely some nerves the first two batters,” said Spartans Head Coach Andrea Schwery. “I think she threw eight straight balls, but then she settled in and started really finding a groove.”
In the top of the 1st inning, the Wheelers struck first when Senior Kylee Hartl connected for a base hit with two outs scoring Jordan Porsch to give her team an early 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans offense to counter when Quinn Grubbs hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the 1st, eighth grader Taryn Petersen bunted and then Shay Burmeister whacked an RBI double down the left field line to tie the game at 1.
“I told them they needed to be aggressive especially in a game like this,” Schwery said. “Everyone is nervous, so the more you can put the ball in play and be swinging right away instead of letting them kind of dictate the game, especially with a good pitcher. Quinn did a good job kind of setting the tone.”
Miller helped out her own cause when she came to the plate in the bottom of the 3rd inning hitting an RBI groundout to the second basemen, putting the Spartans up 2-1. A few batters later, Hannah Nelson hit a deep fly ball to left field for a sacrifice fly putting her team up by two.
Miller returned to the circle in the top of the 4th, striking out two batters. In the top of the 5th, the Wheelers made some noise when Michelle Brooks opened the inning with a leadoff single. Later in the inning with two outs, Jordan Porsch hit an RBI single scoring Brooks, cutting the Spartans lead to 3-2.
The Spartans responded right away in the bottom of the 5th inning when Burmeister drew a leadoff walk, became aggressive on the basepaths going from first to third base, and Miller dropped down a sacrifice bunt scoring Burmeister to widen the Spartans lead to two.
“I think that my teammates put me into some really good positions to get those bunts down and get that groundball to get those RBIs,” Miller said.
Miller returned to the circle in the top of the 7th securing the final three outs, which punched the Spartans ticket to the next round of tournament play.
“It felt pretty good,” Miller added. “It was kind of stressful in the beginning, but then when I settled in, it was a lot better.”
The Spartans return home Friday night for the second round of tournament play against the 21-7 Woodbine Tigers. The Tigers are led by Charlie Pryor with 40 hits, batting .470. In the circle, Pryor has 18 wins, a 0.80 earned run average and 272 strikeouts.
“Same thing as tonight will be key, putting the ball in play and playing clean defense,” Schwery said.