Section baseball: Windom Area eliminated
MARSHALL — Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.
Windom Area learned that in the hardest of ways Tuesday when it saw its baseball season come to an end with a 4-0 loss to Wabasso in a Section 3A elimination game.
It became evident in the top of the fifth that the Eagles weren’t going to catch any breaks. After Devin Nielson reached on a single to open the frame, Jacob Gotto smacked what may have been the hardest hit ball all night. Rabbits’ pitcher Josh Altermatt made the stabbing catch and threw to first for a double play.
“That’s what happens,” Windom Area coach Brad Schlomann said. “Sometimes that’s the way the game treats you.”
Windom Area put together its first threat in the top of the third but, as it would all day, fell victim to an unfortunate bounce.
Nielsen ripped a leadoff single and proceeded to steal both second and third base. With one out in the frame, Zach Bartosh dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt, but Altermatt made a stellar defensive play to keep the Eagles off the board. He dove forward and flipped the ball to the plate from his stomach in time to catch Nielsen.
The Rabbits took advantage with a run in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. TJ Fulton drew a one-out walk and eventually scored an unearned run when the Eagles booted a two-out grounder off the bat of Neil Eichten.
“After that first run, I knew that was going to be mentally taxing on us,” Schlomann said. “We lost a heartbreaker Saturday and I knew we were going to have a hard time recovering after they got that first run.”
Despite the deficit, Windom Area starting pitcher Jack Mellstrom looked strong through the first three innings, not allowing a hit and striking out four. He ran into trouble in the fourth, however. Caleb Salfer legged out a one-out double before William Klann dropped in a single. Two straight walks drove a run in and chased Mellstrom from the mound. The Rabbits added two more in the inning and carried a 4-0 lead into the fifth.
The Eagles put two runners on in both the sixth and seventh, but failed to push anyone across. They also turned a pretty 5-4-3 double play to end the bottom of the sixth, but it didn’t make a difference on the scoreboard.
Mellstrom took the season-ending loss for the Eagles. In three and one-third innings pitched, he allowed four runs — three earned — on two hits, struck out four and walked four. Taylor Quiring and Wyatt Stevens closed it out in relief. Altermatt went six in the win for Wabasso. He allowed no runs on five hits while striking out three.
“Altermatt’s a good pitcher,” Schlomann said. “Wabasso out-played us today. Chad (Olson)’s got them playing really well right now.”
Nielsen, Bartosh and Pfeffer accounted for all six of the Eagles’ hits as Nielsen and Pfeffer went 2-for-3 and Bartosh was 2-for-4. Salfer put together a 2-for-3 night to which he added a run scored.
“This game does not define our season,” Schlomann said. “We had a great season and we had some great seniors. We graduated a lot of people from last year and we weren’t supposed to be as good as we were. We had seven new starters. I just hate that this is how we went out.”
R H E
Windom Area 000 000 0 – 0 6 1
Wabasso 001 300 x – 4 3 0