By Troy Thielen, Asst. Coach
The Eden Valley Hawks opened up Central Valley League North playoffs this past weekend with a pair of games against division foes. Saturday night, July 25, they took on the Cold Spring Rockies in Cold Spring, and on Sunday, July 26, they played the Pearl Lake Lakers in Marty.
Hawks fall to Rockies
The Hawks lost 7-4 Saturday night in a well-played game against a high-powered Cold Spring team. The box score for the Hawks was 4 runs, 8 hits, 2 errors, and 9 runners left on base. The teams were knotted 2-2 going in to the bottom of the 7th inning when the Rockies scored 4 runs to take the lead for good.
The Hawks’ pitcher of record was Austin Berg. Berg started, and he pitched a strong 7 1/3 innings, allowing 5 runs (4 of them earned), and 7 hits against the high-powered Rockies’ offense. Berg’s control was excellent all night as he issued only 2 walks; he hit 1 batter and had 1 strikeout. Nathan Geislinger came in relief of Berg and pitched 1 1/3 innings; he allowed 2 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, and had 1 strike-out.
Offensively, the Hawks were led by Austin Berg who helped his own cause going 3-4 with 3 singles, 1 RBI, and he scored a run. Tanner Olean was 1-3 with a double, 1 RBI, reached on a fielder’s choice, and he had a walk. Jeff Haag was 0-5 but he did reach base on an error. Travis Thielen was 1-3 with a single. Nathan Geislinger was 1-2 with a clutch 2-out RBI single that tied the game back up 2-2 in the top of the 7th inning. Austin Schlangen was 1-5 with a single. Ben Arends was 0-3 with a walk, 1 RBI, and he scored a run. Matt Unterberger and Matthew Pennertz were both 1-4 with a single each. Matthew Lies had an interesting stat line with 4 plate appearances but only 1 official at-bat; he was clutch with a sacrifice bunt, he moved a runner over on an in-field put-out, reached on a fielder’s choice, was hit by a pitch, and he scored 1 run.
The Rockies’ starting pitcher, and pitcher of record, was Jake Brinker. Brinker threw 7 2/3 innings and he allowed only 2 runs to give him the win and a quality start. Brinker gave up 5 hits, and he was not in the “giving mood” as he allowed only 1 walk and he had 7 strike-outs.
DJ Neu came in relief of Brinker in the 7th inning with Hawks players on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs; he got a strike-out to end the threat. Neu threw 1 1/3 inning to get the save, allowing 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, he hit one batter, and had 3 strike-outs.
Offensively the Rockies were led by veteran David Jonas. Jonas was 2-5 with 2 singles, 2 RBI, and he scored 1 run. Jonas’ RBI single in the top of the 7th inning, putting the Rockies in front 3-2 and gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Jordan Neu was 2-5 with
2 singles and he scored a run. Alex Geislinger was 2-4 with a single, a double, an RBI, and a walk. Calvin Kalthoff was 0-4 with a walk and he scored a run. Austin Dufner was 1-4 with a blast of a home run in the 6th inning. Nick Skluzacek had 4 plate appearances, but only 2 official at-bats which gave him a stat line of 1-2, with a clutch two-out triple in the 7th inning that drove in 2 runs breaking the game open for the Rockies and putting them up 6-2. Skluzacek also had a walk; he scored 1 run, and reached on an error. Sam Distel was 2-3 with 2 singles and a walk. Max Hansen was 0-2 with a walk, a run scored, and he reached on an error. Brady Linn was 0-3, but he did reach base after being hit by a pitch.
Pearl Lake defeats Hawks
The Saturday loss to the Rockies meant the Hawks would travel to Marty for a 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon win-or-go-home game against the Pearl Lake Lakers. The sweltering afternoon heat didn’t help to ignite the Hawks’ bats, however, and they fell 3-2 to the Lakers in a fast-paced pitcher’s duel that was completed in just over two hours. The Lakers scored 2 runs in the 3rd inning to take the lead, and then 1 more in the 8th. The Hawks took their time getting on the board as they didn’t score 1 run until the 8th inning, and they added 1 more run in the 9th. The run in the 9th was an estimated 405-foot home run by Austin Schlangen that cleared the county road and broke up the no-hitter that was being tossed by Justin Kunkel.
The Hawks sent Ben Arends to the mound to start, and he was throwing flames on a day when the Hawks’ bats were cold. Arends appeared to be wearing down in the bottom of the 3rd inning after the Lakers struck for 2 runs, but he got out of the inning with a strike-out to minimize the damage. Then Arends came out in the 4th and struck out all three batters he faced. In the bottom of the 5th, Arends struck out the first two batters of the inning, too, giving him a stifling 5 strike-outs in a row. With 1 out in the 3rd inning, he struck-out 7 of the next 9 batters. Arends threw a total six innings allowing 2 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, he hit one batter, and had 9 strike-outs. Tanner Olean came in relief of Arends in the 7th inning, and he threw 2 innings allowing 1 run, 3 hits, and had 2 strike-outs.
The Hawks had to tip their cap to Lakers’ starting pitcher Justin Kunkel as he had a perfect game into the 5th inning, and took a no-hitter into the top of the 9th inning. Offensively, the statistics were pretty slim for the Hawks. Austin Schlangen led the Hawks and had the only hit of the game for them. As mentioned before, it was a long home run that cleared the county road, so it was quite the dramatic way to break up the no-hitter, and it brought the Hawks to within 1 run at 3-2. The next batter after Schlangen was veteran lefty DH Jeff Haag, and he smashed a ball that looked to be a sure-fire home run to tie the game; but the stingy north wind held it up just enough to keep it in the park for an out.
Austin Berg reached base and broke up the perfect game by getting hit by a pitch with 1 out in the 5th inning. Matthew Pennertz reached base on an error, had a walk, and he scored the only other run for the Hawks. Matt Unterberger was the only other Hawk to reach base, and he earned a walk. Nathan Geislinger had a pinch-hit sacrifice bunt in the game, too.
As stated before, the starting pitcher for the Lakers was Justin Kunkel and he threw 8 innings in a complete game effort. Kunkel allowed 2 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, and he hit one batter.
The Lakers were led offensively by Ryan Wieneke who had a nice day at the plate going 3-3 in 4 plate appearances with 2 singles, a home run, and he was hit by a pitch. Wieneke was also caught stealing in a put-out by Hawks catcher Matt Unterberger. Max Fuchs was 0-3 but he reached on a fielder’s choice and scored a run. Andrew Schmidt was 1-1 with a pinch-hit single. Rudy Notch was 1-4 with a single and a run scored. Chad Kunkel was 2-4 with 2 singles. Tommy Linn was 1-3 with a single and a sacrifice. Colton Fruth was 0-3 with a walk. Tyler Stang was 0-2 but he reached base on an error.
In a spring and summer of Town Ball like no other, it was tough for the Hawks season to end after just nine games, but they are definitely grateful to have had the opportunity to play ball at all in a season that was in doubt of happening for so long. The Hawks would like to extend a special thanks to Mayor Brent Bengston and the Eden Valley City Council for giving us the approval to play at the city field, and a big shout out to our fans and volunteers that supported us.