Washburn defeats Solon Springs in 8 innings
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
SOLON SPRINGS — The Washburn Castle Guards scored an unearned run in the top of the eighth inning to defeat the Solon Springs Eagles 7-6 in a WIAA Division 4 regional championship game Wednesday evening at the Solon Springs baseball field.
Solon Springs rallied from a 6-3 deficit with two runs in the sixth inning and one run in the seventh to force extra innings.
With Logan Long pitching his second inning of relief for the Eagles, Washburn’s Ian Anderson led off the top of the eighth inning with a walk and moved to third on a stolen base and wild pitch.
After a strikeout and a fly out, Long struck out Jacob Tomlinson for the apparent third out. But Solon Springs’ catcher dropped the third strike and delayed throwing the ball to first base to complete the out. When he finally threw the ball, Tomlinson beat the throw to first and Anderson snuck home behind the play to score the go-ahead run.
The inning ended a batter later on a fly out.
With Solon Springs needing a run to tie the game, Tyler Long led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a double. He eventually stole third base, but that’s as far as he got as Washburn pitcher Brett Olson ended the game with a strike out.
Olson, a senior, pitched all eight innings for the Castle Guards, allowing 12 hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
“You have to tip your hat to him. He’s pitched six games in a short season, threw 30 innings all year only walked 10 guys,” Washburn coach Frank Pufall said. “He just throws strikes and lets the guys play behind him. He’s not going to overpower you or strike out a lot of guys, but he’s not going to walk a lot of batters and he’s going to give you a chance to win. He did an outstanding job.”
Tyler Long, Ryan Johnson and Logan Long pitched for the Eagles.
Long went the first four innings, allowing six runs on six hits with six strikeouts and five walks. Ryan Johnson pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit with a strikeout, and Logan Long pitched the final two innings, striking out two, walking a batter and hitting another.
“It was disappointing to have Tyler pitch his worst outing of the season,” SSHS coach Nate Ahlberg said. “He has pitched so well for us for the last three years and I expected him to throw very well tonight. Ryan and Logan did a great job in relief over the final 4 innings.”
Ryan Barrett tripled and singled for Solon Springs. Brett Missinne doubled twice and knocked in a run; Tyler Long doubled, singled, had an RBI and was intentionally walked twice; Ryan Anderson singled twice; Joe Androsky had a RBI doubled; Logan Long had a hit and RBI; Johnson had a RBI single and Austin Haskins singled.
Cody Carlson led Washburn on offense with two doubles, a single and two RBIs. PJ Hoefling and Tomlinson added RBI singles; Kevin Leonard walked with the bases loaded; Anderson doubled; and Jordan Carlson singled.
Washburn took a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Anderson and Cody Carlson doubled and three straight walks forced in the second run.
Solon Springs tied it up in the bottom of the first. Missinne doubled and scored on a single by Tyler Long, who then scored on Gibson’s ground out.
The Guards took a 3-2 lead in the third when Hoefling’s single scored Pearson, who walked.
The Eagles answered again in the bottom of the third when Barrett tripled down the right-field line and scored on Johnson’s single.
Washburn took a 6-3 lead in the fourth inning. Jordan Carlson singled, Cody Carlson was hit by a pitch, Tomlinson singled and all three scored when the ball got past Solon Springs’ centerfielder.
The Eagles got within 6-5 in the sixth as Anderson singled, Missinne walked, Androsky hit an RBI double and Logan Long hit a sac fly.
Solon Springs tied the game up in the seventh when Haskins hit a pinch-hit single, moved second on a wild pitch and scored on Missinne’s two-out double.
Seniors playing their final games for the Eagles were Tyler Long, Androsky, Missinne, Haskins and Jacob Dahlberg.
“Our seniors really battled over the last couple of innings to keep us in the game,” Ahlberg said. “I’m very proud of how those guys played when we were down to our last outs. It will be hard to replace the skill and leadership of those seniors.”
The Eagles advanced to Wednesday’s game with a 2-0 win over Mellen on Tuesday.
“We played two completely different ball games 24 hours apart,” Ahlberg said. “Against Mellen we limited walks and errors, hit two sac flies, and came away with a victory. Against Washburn, we walked too many batters, hit four more and committed three errors.
“On the bright side we had 11 hits and five extra base hits, but it just goes to show that pitching and defense trumps offense.”
Washburn (8-9) advances to play the winner of the Prairie Farm-Bruce game at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Shell Lake. The winner will play in the sectional title game at 4 p.m.
The Castle Guards are on a role. After closing out the regular season with a win over Hurley, they defeated Bayfield and then Drummond, which went 14-0 in the IC and was the No. 1 seed.
“We’re playing well. The kids hung in there and played hard,” Pufall said. “We hadn’t beaten Hurley in four years, so that was a big game for the seniors and it gave us a ton of confidence. Then to beat Bayfield and Drummond gave us even more confidence.”
Ahlberg was witness to that confidence Wednesday evening.
“It’s hard to beat a team on a role and Washburn is on a heck of a role right now,” Ahlberg said.
EAGLE EXTRAS: Solon Springs finishes the season with records of 7-5 and 6-4 in the Indianhead Conference. … Washburn and Solon Springs didn’t play during the regular season — both games were snowed out. … Pufall is in his fourth season at Washburn. He joined a program that had two wins combined in the previous three seasons.