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Mazomanie rallies past Black Earth

 

July 26, 2018



A pre-game shower and the threat of more rain and a postponement added a sense of urgency for both visiting Mazomanie and Black Earth on a cool Saturday evening.

For Mazomanie, it was a must-win game to keep in range of division-leading Sauk Prairie and to secure a top seed in the upcoming Home Talent League playoffs.

For Black Earth, which is 1-7 in games decided by two runs or less, it was an opportunity to gain some momentum heading into the playoffs.

Mazomanie grabbed an early lead but needed a late rally to hold off the Bombers for a thrilling 4-3 victory in an HTL Northern Section crossover game at Jerry Barsness Field.

“With the rain coming, we thought we’d have to score early,” Mazomanie manager Terry Doyle said. “We forced a couple in. We’ve been putting the ball in play very well and hitting with confidence. Hopefully it continues. We’re a young team and we’re rolling.”

The one-two punch of leadoff hitter Zac Moyer and No. 2 hitter Hudson Barsness combined for five of the Mustangs’ 13 hits. The duo didn’t waste any time sparking Mazomanie (12-3) to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Moyer led off with a sharp single to center field and scored when Barsness followed with an infield single and both runners advanced on a throwing error on the play. Mitch Howard followed with a ground ball to shortstop to plate Barsness for a quick lead.

“That was huge to get up early when you’re away,” said Barsness, who finished with three hits. “They’re a good team and play tough. To get up early like that was big right away. We played heads-up baseball.”

With ace left-hander Carter Howard unavailable due to a prior commitment, it was up to right-hander Kale Pustina to take the ball for the Mustangs on the mound.

Pustina threw 106 pitches in tossing six strong innings.

“I was able to locate inside pretty well,” Pustina said. “My curve ball was working very well. That got me some ground balls at the end.

“Just being able to locate, if I can hit a corner every now and then, the inside corner especially, makes it tough on hitters and worked well for me tonight.”

Pustina was also grateful for the Mustangs’ early offense.

“It was awesome,” said Pustina, who scattered five hits and four walks with five strikeouts in picking up the victory. “I didn’t expect to get many runs, so to get two in the first inning was a huge relief. It’s always nice to work with a lead right away in a game.”

Black Earth (5-9) shortstop Tyler Flamme pulled the Bombers within 2-1 in the second inning when he led off with a home run to left field, his first career HTL long ball.

“I thought it sparked our team,” said Flamme, who had three of the Bombers’ seven hits and jumped all over a 1-2 inside fastball. “We started putting the ball in play after the first inning and things turned for us. I was just looking to battle.”

Black Earth pulled even when it scratched out another run in the fourth inning. Marcus Caminiti opened the inning with a single to left field, moved to second on a passed ball, to third on a balk and scored on Flamme’s single to center field.

“We went down 1-2-3 in the first inning, and his first hit was a big spark,” Black Earth manager Eric Duhr said of Flamme. “But he was a big spark all night.

“He’s coming along as the season has gone. He had to miss a few weeks early in the year. Now that he’s playing every day, the bat is coming around. He is an unreal hitter and defensive player. He’s a great ballplayer.”

Black Earth right-hander Tony Caminiti stymied the Mustangs after their opening scoring burst through the following five innings, scattering six hits and a walk and stranding seven runners.

That enabled the Bombers to eventually take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning after they loaded the bases with one out. Shane Moyer’s infield single plated Flamme, who had reached base when he was hit by a pitch.

But Black Earth’s 3-2 lead was short-lived when Mazomanie promptly scored two runs in its next at bat.

Zac Moyer led off and legged out a double to center field, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a balk.

Hudson Barsness followed with a single to center field to chase Tony Caminiti, who was replaced by Marcus Caminiti on the mound. Barsness then scored when Mitch Howard reached base on an infield throwing error to give Mazomanie the lead for good.

“It shows the resilience of our team,” Barsness said. “Last year, we might have flopped. But this year, being able to charge back and score right away shows growth for our team.”

Right-hander Bama Doyle relieved Pustina to open the bottom of the seventh and blanked the Bombers the rest of the way.

Rob Capener greeted Doyle with a leadoff single to center in the seventh but was thrown out at home plate by left fielder Mitch Howard on Flamme’s line-drive single to end the inning.

Black Earth threatened in the eighth inning when Tony Caminiti was hit by a pitch and Moyer drew a two-out walk. But Bama Doyle retired Danny Watkins on a fly ball to left field to end the inning.

“He commands his pitches well, better than most that we have,” Mazomanie catcher Andrew Page said of Bama Doyle. “He does well with what he’s got.”

Bama Doyle then needed just nine pitches to finish off the Bombers in order in the ninth inning to pick up the save.

“Carter Howard was gone tonight, and Kale stepped in and did a good job and pitched six strong innings,” Terry Doyle said. “Bama is getting a few more innings and does what he has to do. He mixes it up. He’s not going to throw it by teams. He’s smart enough and uses what he has.”

Jack Doyle had three hits and Page also delivered a pair of doubles to keep Mazomanie in the race for the Western Division title and a higher seed in the HTL playoffs.

The Mustangs trail Sauk Prairie (12-2) by one game in the loss column. They host the Twins on Sunday on Fan Appreciation Day in what could determine the Western Division champion and a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Northern Section playoffs.

“Now you can feel it, every game, every pitch, every out counts,” Pustina said. “Both teams could feel it tonight. That’s the atmosphere you want to play in. That’s the atmosphere you want to pitch in.”

Despite suffering another close loss, Duhr said the Bombers know they control their own fate in the upcoming playoffs, which could include a return match with the Mustangs.

“Where we’re sitting in the standings, and they’re sitting in the standings, there’s a chance we’ll play them in the first round,” Duhr said. “It was a playoff atmosphere tonight. Darn right, we wanted this baseball game.

“We want to get it rolling before the playoffs. We’ve got two more games ahead of us and we’ll try to get to 7-9 and where ever the playoffs take us.”

MAZOMANIE 4, BLACK EARTH 3

Mazomanie......200 000 200 – 4 13 0

Black Earth.…010 101 000 – 3 7 4

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) -- M: Kale Pustina (W, 6-5-3-4-5), Bama Doyle (SV, 3-2-0-1-2); – BE: Tony Caminiti (L, 6-11-3-1-1), Marcus Caminiti (3-2-0-0-2).

Leading hitters – M: Hudson Barsness (3x5), Jack Doyle (3x5), Andrew Page (2x4), Zac Moyer (2x4). 2B – Hudson Barsness, Andrew Page 2, Zac Moyer. BE: Tyler Flamme (3x3), Marcus Caminiti (2x5). HR – Tyler Flamme.

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