Wittenberg surges past Marion/Tigerton after big inning

Wittenberg scores 11 runs with two outs in sixth
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Leader photo by Morgan Rode Gavin Scheurer rips a two-run single to center in Wittenberg’s 11-run sixth inning.

The Wittenberg and Marion/Tigerton Legion baseball teams met for the second time this summer on Tuesday in Tigerton.

The second meeting between the teams was nothing like the first, a game in which Wittenberg used balanced hitting and a strong outing on the mound to cruise to a 9-0 win.

This time around, Wittenberg needed an 11-run sixth inning to pull away for a 14-2 win in six innings on Tuesday.

After Wittenberg loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, Marion/Tigerton starting pitcher Austin Hoffman escaped the jam by inducing an inning-ending groundout.

Marion/Tigerton, which entered the tilt with a 0-5 record, then made a statement in their half of the first. Hoffman walked to open the frame and later moved to second on a Conner Harris single. Mitchell Elandt then ripped a double to the right-center gap, plating both Hoffman and Harris.

Wittenberg answered in the second with a run to cut its deficit in half. Gavin Scheurer doubled to open the frame, stole third and later scored on a throwing error.

After allowing two runs in the first, Wittenberg starter Trevor Groshek settled in, striking out three of the four batters he faced in the second.

Wittenberg grabbed a one-run lead in the top of the third after Ian Zeinert reached on a bloop single down the right field line before Casey Kerstner missiled a line drive homer to center.

The score would remain 3-2 in favor of Wittenberg until the sixth inning, when the visitors brought 17 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs, all of which came with two outs.

After allowing the two runs in the third, Hoffman stranded a runner at second in the fourth before getting a flyout to leave the bases-loaded in the fifth.

After allowing a leadoff walk to Kody Szews in the sixth, Hoffman induced a flyout before Groshek doubled, moving Szews to third. After getting a foul popup for the second out, Marion/Tigerton decided to intentionally walk Kerstner to load the bases. Marion/Tigerton applied the same strategy in the fifth, and Hoffman induced a popup and flyout to avert danger.

The plan nearly worked again as Hoffman induced a ground ball from Matthew Kapitz. The ball was mishandled though, allowing each runner to move up a base and Szews to score. Scheurer followed with a hard hit single to center, plating Groshek and Kerstner and moving Kapitz to third. Marion/Tigerton was also forced to replace Hoffman due to the righty hitting the pitch limit.

With Hoffman no longer on the hill, Wittenberg took advantage, as the next nine batters reached base.

Kapitz and Scheurer each crossed home plate after wild pitches while Shane Herb and Jack Stewart each worked walks. Herb later scored on a wild pitch before Szews singled and advanced to second on the throw as Stewart strolled to third.

Dalton Zeinert followed with a single that plated Stewart and Szews before moving to third on a Groshek single. Ian Zeinert was then hit by a pitch to reload the bases.

Kerstner worked a walk to score Dalton Zeinert before a Kapitz single brought in Groshek. Scheurer then drew a walk to score Ian Zeinert and cap the monster inning.

“We just started to see the ball a lot better in that fourth time through the order,” Kerstner, who reached base in all five of his at-bats, said.

“We just started to get settled on the pitcher after going through the lineup a couple times,” Groshek said. “We have a good hitting team, it just sometimes takes a bit to time up the pitcher.”

Now holding a 14-2 advantage, Wittenberg turned the ball over to Herb to try and finish off the win. Herb walked the first batter he faced before getting a double play ball. Izaiah Hidde then drew a walk and Cayden Schoen singled before Herb struck out the next batter to end the contest.

Groshek picked up the win after allowing just the two first inning runs over five innings. He struck out seven batters.

“I just found my groove,” Groshek said. “It took me awhile to find the zone after not pitching for a few weeks but my arm felt good all night.”

“Those first couple innings, he got behind batters and had to throw a lot of pitches, he wasn’t very comfortable on the mound,” Wittenberg coach Dan Kapitz said. “The next few innings, he was pretty spot on with his pitches and he was pitching to contact more. Our defense played error-free and made the plays behind him.”

Wittenberg improved to 8-1 on the season after winning its fifth straight contest.

“Right now, we are just playing relaxed and having fun,” Kerstner said. “And we are playing clean baseball, which always helps.”

“Our pitching has been really strong, which takes a little pressure off of our hitting,” coach Kapitz said. “We have some veteran guys who have swung the bats well and our defense has been solid all year.”

Wittenberg will host Amherst/Rosholt on Thursday in its next game.

Marion/Tigerton slipped to 0-6 on the season but is still remaining positive.

“I’m going to tell these guys to look at the first five innings today to see what kind of team we can really be,” Marion/Tigerton coach Tyler Marquardt said. “A couple of these guys are done after this year, so I’m just going to keep telling them to enjoy the moment and have fun.”

Marion/Tigerton will travel to face Clintonville on Thursday in its next scheduled matchup.