Losing the final game of the season stings, but Marshall’s baseball team should be commended for coming back after a seven-game losing streak this year.
The Tigers overcame pitching and defensive problems to play very well toward the end of the 2008 season.
Their season ended Tuesday in a 6-0 setback to New Ulm.
That loss showed New Ulm’s dominance in pitching and defense. The Eagles didn’t make an error and the Tigers made five.
“The errors reflected how we played early,” Marshall coach Blaine Schnaible said. “They brought back memories when we had a stretch when we went 0-and-7. Defensively, we weren’t playing very well. We weren’t playing good defense or pitching very well.”
New Ulm’s Zach Moore pitched a four-hitter with three walks and eight strikeouts.
Andy Ogdahl suffered the loss, pitching six innings and allowing four runs (none earned) with no walks and five strikeouts.
“Andy pitched well enough for us to win,” Schnaible said. “We didn’t give him much help defensively. Obviously, it doesn’t help when you don’t score any runs. (Tuesday), it didn’t work out defensively. Any time you have more errors than hits, it’s not good.”
Ogdahl, a senior, had his fourth straight quality start. He got credit for a save against Jackson County Central (3-1) and had a complete-game win (5-2) over Windom Area in conference play. Ogdahl then had solid performances in the section tournament in victories over Lac Qui Parle Valley (11-3) and Redwood Valley (6-2).
With any luck, the New Ulm-Marshall game could have been scoreless. The Eagles scored their first run on a balk and added three runs (which were also unearned) in the fifth inning.
“Andy gave us a shot to win,” Schnaible said. “If we could have picked up the ball and made some plays, it could have been 0-to-0 late in the game. We gave New Ulm extra outs, and they made us pay.”
Marshall had a topsy-turvy season, overcoming a miserable start to reel off wins in eight of 11 games late in the 2008 campaign.
“We seemed to turn it around,” Schnaible said. “We played decent baseball. We were better defensively, and our pitching came around.”
The Tigers took advantage of their scoring opportunities by being aggressive on the base paths.
“We were hitting the ball and we got guys on base,” Schnaible said. “We put pressure on the defense and created our own opportunities.”
The Tigers’ run production increased due to more clutch hitting in their late-season run.
“We had good two-out hitting at that point,” Schnaible said. “We were putting the bat on the ball with two strikes.”
However, that wasn’t the case as Marshall suffered losses in its last two section tournament games after going 3-0 to start postseason play. The Tigers left 11 runners on base in a 3-1 loss to Pipestone Area in the winner’s bracket.
It was the first New Ulm game that also stands out. The Eagles had just taken over as the No 1-rated team in Class AA.
Zach Moore, who was the pitcher of record Tuesday in the season finale, was treated rudely by the Tigers. In the first inning, Marshall scored seven runs in 2/3 of an inning.
“We got seven off him and knocked him out of the game,” Schnaible said. “He wasn’t getting in rhythm. We hit him pretty good, and they kicked the ball around a little bit.”
The Tigers led 7-1 before New Ulm rallied to win, 8-7. Tuesday, Moore got revenge in a complete game.
“We had opportunities early to get to him,” Schnaible said. “After that, he got in a rhythm and cruised from there on out.”
The Tigers finished with a record above .500.
“I told the kids after the game that this game hurts — it’s hard ending on a game when you didn’t play very well,” Schnaible said. “The coaching staff was proud of the way we turned it around after a 1-7 start. The guys could easily have packed it in. We won five of six games before sections. We got on a roll. As coaches, we were proud of the way we turned the season around. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
Nine seniors graduate off this year’s Tigers’ baseball team: Darren Baun, Nick Fischer, Paul Ivers, Austin Louwagie, Jake McKenzie, Andy Ogdahl, Aaron Ogdahl, Ryan Sanow and Taylor VanOverbeke.
I had the pleasure of covering that group of 16-year-olds, when they captured third place in the 2006 state VFW tournament. Because of that high placing, undue pressure may have been put on this year’s seniors.
“It was a good senior class,” Schnaible said. “It’s tough losing those guys, but the junior class has players who have seen varsity playing time this year. We have three starters back. Looking to next year, we have more guys coming back with varsity experience than we did this year.”
Justin Stegner came into his own when he was switched to shortstop. Sean Netzke was solid as a designated hitter. Taylor Hedman, who was recovering from shoulder surgery, got some at-bats. Along with sophomore Andrew Larsen, who pitched the seventh inning against New Ulm Tuesday, they will be the nucleus for next year.
The challenge is their commitment to baseball, getting into the weight room to get bigger, stronger and faster.
“Hopefully, they don’t forget how this loss (to New Ulm) felt,” Schnaible said.