Coach says team is young, but improving

The Loomis Martin Post 188 Junior Legion Baseball squad had a busy week, playing six games in six days.

The boys traveled to Union Grove June 14 to face the 17U Broncos. In a well-played defensive game, East Troy was shut out 2-0. Roman Evans took the hill and held the Broncos to two runs, while allowing seven hits.

The only offense Post 188 mustered were a pair of hits by John Marschke and singles by Andrew Gross and Jake Smith.

“The Union Grove squad was a 17-year-old group that had beat us the previous week. We are improving, but we are still very young,” Legion coach John Wick said. “It was a strong pitching performance for Roman. He’ll be a fun one to watch in the upcoming years.”

Post 188 went to Racine Horlick June 16 to face the 16U select squad. Through the first two innings, neither team mounted any real offense. In the top of the third, three straight singles by Brendan Sullivan, Brandon Bakken and Roman Evans loaded the bases.

Marschke hit a sacrifice fly to plate Sullivan and Gross singled to bring in Bakken and Evans and East Troy had a 3-0 lead.

That lead was short lived as a series of hits and errors plagued Post 188. Racine took a 6-3 lead on four unearned runs. East Troy made a little noise in the fifth on hits by Evans and Dan O’Brien to get within a couple of runs, but more errors defensively saw Racine put the game away 15-5 in six innings.

“The effort and energy were there early, but these guys have to battle through mistakes,” Wick said. “It’s like quicksand. One error too often leads to many more because they can’t let it go quickly enough. Our plate approaches are improving and guys are putting the ball in play. Good things will come.”

Saturday brought Kenosha to town for a double header.

“I knew this would be a huge test,” Wick said. “Kenosha had an older team that will be playing in the 19U tournament. We are barely 16, but I wanted to see how we’d battle.”

The answer came quickly. Kenosha jumped up to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Dylan Jakscht was struggling to find the strike zone for Post 188. East Troy answered in the bottom of the frame as Joey Krantz and Jacob Mast singled and were driven in by a Dan O’Brien double.

From there, the game became a struggle as East Troy rolled through three pitchers trying to stem the tide, but errors again hurt the home team. The highlight was O’Brien taking to the mound and going three innings, allowing only one earned run.

“Dan hasn’t pitched in a few years. For him to throw strikes gives us another option on the mound,” Wick said.

The second game saw the home team struggle defensively again. Kenosha took off for a 20-6 win as Post 188’s pitching struggled to find the plate and defense failed to make plays.

“I knew Kenosha was good, but we can’t help any opponent as much as we did and expect to ever win. Of the 34 runs they scored on the day, 21 were unearned. That’s just not acceptable for any team at any level,” Wick said.

Sunday saw Clinton come to town for another doubleheader. Sullivan took the hill again for East Troy and threw a complete game, posting a 17-2 victory.

The offense erupted for 13 hits. Led by Jacob Mast, Bakken, and Marschke, East Troy put up 10 runs in the third inning and seven in the fourth to put it away.

“Funny how things work,” Wick said. “No errors and several really good defensive plays less than 24 hours after a melt down. Brendan did a great job making minor adjustments in his mechanics and was pounding the strike zone all game.”

Game two saw Andrew Gross step to the hill for East Troy.

“Andrew had incredible control today. His fastball was humming, but he had a big looping curve that was freezing hitters,” Wick said.

Through three innings, he had five strikeouts and only one ball had made it out of the infield. After retiring the first two in the fourth, a bloop fly ball found grass and the perfect game was broken up.

“The kids were getting excited as they saw how the game was unfolding,” Wick said. “Even on the blooper, Matt Kisting broke as hard as I have ever seen him run and laid out for the ball. They really wanted it.”

Gross also had a big day at the plate, going 3-3 in the 8-1 victory.

Post 188 (4-7) plays Lake Geneva at home on Wednesday before heading to Antigo for a weekend tournament were they will see Necedah, Stevens Point, and Oshkosh North in pool play.

“Our 19U team surprised a lot of people and won the tournament last year,” Wick said. “They gave us a loaded bracket this time around. Point and Oshkosh are some pretty tough programs. We will learn a lot about ourselves.”


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