Baseball: Blackhawks can’t battle back

April 14, 2017 GMT

The Fort Atkinson High School baseball team was able to battle in its Badger Conference opener on Thursday at Jones Park.

The Blackhawks just couldn’t battle back to a win.

Fort found itself down 6-0 after a five-run second inning from the Red Hawks, and despite scored a combined five runs in the third and fourth, the Blackhawks ultimately fell 7-5.

“I thought we competed well again,” said FAHS head coach Andy Schwantes. “They stayed in it, and could have folded early. It was 6-0 and we weren’t doing anything at the plate. The second time through the order I think we started putting together a lot better at bats. Definitely stayed in the game and gave ourselves a chance to keep it close all the way to the end, and have a chance to win.”

Milton scored six of their seven runs in the first two innings off of Fort starter Grayson Coleman, starting with an RBI single from Griffen Allen to score leadoff hitter Kam Van Natta.

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In the second, a Will Thomas looper single scored Jerry Lipke to make it 2-0 before the Red Hawks loaded the bases when a double-play attempt didn’t workout from the Blackhawks.

Chase Davis took a walk to score a run to make it 3-0 and then Tanner Williams hit a two RBI single to make it a 5-0 game. A fielders choice then scored another for the Red Hawks after a heads up play from Davis to score on a throw to first.

“I think guys are still kind of learning where their range is and their limitations are (defensively),” Schwantes said. “I think (Braeden Wixom) has played third but I think he is still learning... Same up the middle. (Ty Schieber) played a lot last season but he played with (then senior Clay Ehrke) most of the time, so he’s still learning who he’s working with. JoJo (Crandall) played a hell of a game defensively at first.”

Like Schwantes said, the Blackhawks (1-3 overall, 0-1 Badger South) didn’t fold.

In the bottom of the third Tanner Riedl and Jake Willey led off the inning with singles, and Riedl was able to score after an error on a Ty Schieber grounder. Willey, who got to third in the play, scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-2.

Fort’s first RBI came from a single by JoJo Crandall to score Schieber to make it 6-3.

In the fourth, Fort was back at it.

Mason Emrick led off the inning with a double, and was advanced to third by an Easton McGowan sac-bunt.

On his second hit of the night Riedl doubled to score Emrick to make it 6-4, and eventually scored after a poor pick off play led to two errors, which allowed Fort to cut it to 6-5 and force a Milton pitching change.

“Our bats are a lot further along than I would have expected after the first four games...,” Schwantes said. “The bottom of the order played well.”

Milton (3-3, 2-0) was able to add their final run in the top of the fifth, scoring on an error before Emrick caught a runner stealing to end the inning.

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It was Emrick’s first of two caught stealing throws to second, as the senior had to calm a big when Milton tested him earlier, letting a couple get away.

“As a guy who’s been on varsity for three years now you kind of hope that they make that push by the time you’re a senior to be dependable every time out and I think he’s certainly shown that he’s taking control back there,” Schwantes said.

Fort had their last chance to tie it in the seventh after one-out singles from Crandall and Josh Bilau. Coleman advanced the runners with a sac-bunt for Braeden Wixom, who had two hits already in the game.

Wixom got solid contact on his first pitch, but lined out to center field to end the game.

“I think the conference is going to be like this,” Schwantes said. “There’s going to be tight games. There aren’t any clear cut top to bottom. I think everyone is pretty similar and we’re dealing with our fair share of pitching depth right now. Still trying to figure that out a little bit.”

The Blackhawks will be back at it on Saturday, hosting cross-town rival Jefferson at 12:30 p.m. or whenever the Junior Varsity game ends.