By Joe Ewert
After defeating Rhinelander in both games of a doubleheader last Saturday, the Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School Red Raiders hoped to continue building on that momentum heading into Tuesday’s game.
The statewide top-ranked Arrowhead High School Warhawks had other plans as the Red Raiders were shutout 6-0 at Witter Field.
The game got off to a rough start as Lincoln pitcher Caleb Krommenakker faced bases loaded with one out before Arrowhead’s Jonathan Duranso drove in the first run with a shot to right field. It was then that Rapids’ coach, Bob Gawlitta, took to the mound to calm his pitcher down.
“He was rushing his pitches a little bit,” Gawlitta said. “I felt he needed to make some better choices on pitch selection when he got ahead in the count, too. I wanted him to trust his pitches and keep the batters guessing.”
Krommenakker walked in another run but settled in after that by striking out Arrowhead infielder Blake Cottrell, and a fly out to left field meant Lincoln was out of their jam.
Arrowhead drove in one more run in the top of the second inning but when Lincoln came to the plate, the bats started warming up thanks to a big base hit by Tanner Case. The Arrowhead third baseman scoped up Case’s hit but botched the throw to first, giving Case an extra base. When Isaac Bauer was hit by a pitch and went to first, a wild pitch sent him and Case to second and third. It was there that the offensive onslaught was stopped, however, as an infield grounder to first, a liner to the pitcher and a fly out to left field retired the side.
The Lincoln defense kept Arrowhead at bay from there until the top of the fourth, when a base hit with a runner on second drove in a run to make it 4-0 Arrowhead.
The bottom of the fourth saw a scary situation as a wayward pitch struck Case in the helmet. Case fell to the ground but sprang up right away and took his base as everybody’s heart started beating again. Case said it was a pretty intense moment.
“I’ve been hit before but never in the head,” said Case. “I’m just glad it didn’t hit my neck or jaw. I don’t think he did that on purpose, though.”
Innings five and six were a stalemate as neither team could drive in a run, but it wasn’t for lack of effort on Lincoln’s part as a Shawn O’Connell double deep to left-center field saw a glimmer of hope for Lincoln to get on the board, but a fielder’s choice and a pop out to the pitcher ended that campaign.
Nate Jackan was brought in to close out defensively for Lincoln and gave up two more runs as Arrowhead increased their lead. Lincoln could not catch a break in the bottom of the seventh, as the Red Raiders fell to the Warhawks 6-0. Despite the loss, Coach Gawlitta says there are plenty of positives.
“I’m proud of our kids,” said Gawlitta. We had good defense and solid pitching. That first inning was rough but our kids came into this game and weren’t intimidated. We swung the bat pretty well against a solid pitcher and played with a team that can easily open things wide open.”
With the loss, Lincoln moves to 5-13 on the season but hopes to chalk one up in the win column against Stevens Point Pacelli on Thursday, May 19 at 4:30 p.m. at Witter Field.