MILROY - Clutch hitting proved key as the Hadley Buttermakers defeated the Tracy Express 12-5 Wednesday night in Milroy.
After falling behind 5-4 in the fourth inning, Hadley retook the lead in the top of the fifth on a three-run, bases-clearing double from designated hitter Paul Counter. Hadley all but ensured its victory in the top of the sixth, when Zach Bruns drove in three runs on a two-out triple to push the Buttermakers' lead to 10-5. Bruns eventually scored on a passed ball for the inning's last run. Hadley added its final run of the game in the eighth after Matt Ackerman drove in Eric Wieneke on a two-out single.
The comeback for the Buttermakers was necessary after Tracy scored two runs in both the third and fourth innings. Jason Minett's two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the third cut the Hadley lead to 4-3. Minett struck again in the fourth with a two-run single.
Photo by Travis Andries
Hadley’s Eric Wieneke, left, celebrates with teammate Zach Bruns after Wieneke scored a run in the Buttermakers’ Gopher League game against the Tracy Express Wednesday in Milroy.
However, Tracy was unable to truly threaten the Buttermakers again. The Express managed just two hits over the final five innings. Responsible for cooling off Tracy's bats was Hadley starting pitcher Justin Reinsma, who settled into a groove after the second Minett hit.
"I left a couple balls up and they put the bat on the ball," Reinsma said. "I just concentrated on going out there, throwing strikes and relying on the defense."
Reinsma got the win for the Buttermakers after allowing five runs on nine hits over 7 1/3 innings. He also had five strike outs and five walks.
Alex Van't Hof pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, allowing no hits with one strike out.
The Buttermakers have been hot as of late, winning seven of their last eight. Manager Myron Bennett has the answer.
"Our pitchers have been pitching a lot better than they were early in the year," Bennett said. "That comes from getting more innings in. We don't have a guy that throws in college. We're pitching a lot better and we've been swinging the bats well over the last two or three games.
"It seems like every game it's somebody new. Tonight it was (Bruns), and (Counter) was swinging the bat well. Wieneke was swinging the bat well last night," Bennett added. "We're getting clutch hitting,"
Bruns finished the game 3-for-4 with five RBIs, three runs scored, a double and a triple. Counter went 2-for-5 with a double and four RBIs.
Eric Wieneke also had a good night at the plate for Hadley, finishing 2-for-5 with three runs scored and a triple. Jamie Boelter also went 2-for-5 for the Buttermakers and scored two runs.
For Tracy, the loss extends its losing streak to nine games, but manager Aaron Ziemer found some encouragement from the tough loss.
"We didn't make a lot of errors. We threw a lot of strikes," Ziemer said. "I think Hadley beat us tonight, I don't think we beat ourselves. I think the last couple of weeks we've been doing a lot of beating ourselves.
"We basically just had those two bad innings where we went out there and gave up seven runs. That's tough to bounce back from. We just didn't get the timely hit late in the game."
While the Express did not find the timely hits, they did have nine in the game. Those nine hits, combined with three Hadley errors, six walks, and three hit batters resulted in Tracy stranding 15 runners on base.
Minett led the Express at the plate, finishing 2-for-4 with four RBIs, a run scored and a home run. Andrew Suby and Jesse Drager also had good nights batting for the Express. Drager finished 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Suby went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Tylan Gylling picked up the loss for the Express, allowing seven runs on seven hits over five innings. Reliever Greg Barnes gave up four runs on two hits in his only inning of duty. Robbie Slinkman allowed one run over two innings with three strikeouts, and Nathan Schaeffer pitched the final inning for Tracy, striking out two.
Wednesday's result moves Tracy to 6-18 overall and 2-14 in the Gopher League. The Express will conclude its regular season Sunday when they host the Milroy Irish in Tracy.
Hadley moves to 11-11 on the season and 10-7 in the Gopher League. The Buttermakers host Sacred Heart on Saturday before ending their regular season with Fan Appreciation Day Sunday against Wilmont in Hadley.
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H-Justin Reinsma, Alex Van't Hof (8); T-Tylan Gylling, Greg Barnes (6), Robbie Slinkman (7), Nathan Schaeffer (9). WP-Reinsma. LP-Gylling. HR: T-Jason Minett. 3B: H-Zach Bruns, Eric Wieneke. 2B: H-Bruns, Paul Counter; T-Jesse Drager, Andrew Suby.