Brothers face off as A’s crush Castlewood

MARSHALL – Growing up in Watertown, S.D., Tanner Neale always looked up to older brother Ryan when it came to baseball. Facing off on opposing sides Friday night, little brother got a chance to show what he’s learned while playing on his new home turf.

In their regular season finale at Legion Field, Tanner Neale’s Marshall A’s blasted Ryan Neale’s Castlewood (S.D.) Ravens 11-1 in seven innings. The younger Neale owns bragging rights for the summer, as Marshall also won 15-4 against Castlewood last month in Castlewood.

Tanner Neale, Marshall’s catcher, laced a double to left field in the fifth inning, scored a run and had an RBI sacrifice fly to help the A’s wrap up the regular season with a 19-6 record. Despite the lopsided scores in both Marshall wins over Castlewood, he said facing off against his brother is a fun experience for all.

“It’s a blast,” Tanner Neale said. “I enjoy it, he enjoys it and the whole family enjoys it. I think everyone around gets a kick out of it and he’s always been my role model. Everything I’ve learned is basically from him.”

It was Ryan Neale’s Ravens who struck first blood, tagging Marshall starter Nate Dickhausen for three hits and scoring a run in the first inning. An unorthodox 8-4-2-6 double play by the A’s ended what could have been a bigger inning for the Ravens.

A’s manager Sean Culhane sensed his starter didn’t have his ‘A’ game Friday night and quickly turned to Jaron Christenson, who pitched six shutout innings and struck out the first four batters he faced. Christenson held Castlewood to just two hits the rest of the game.

“Nate threw really well for us last week and then, I don’t know, there’s something wrong where his arm just isn’t bouncing back like it usually does,” Culhane said. “He knew and I knew after that first inning that he was done.

“It was always the plan to pitch Jaron but it wasn’t the plan to pitch him that early. He ended up having a great outing. He threw strikes, he was consistent and he let his defense make plays behind him.”

Castlewood (14-8 overall) didn’t have its lead for long, as Marshall scored three runs in the opening inning. Ravens starter Matt Stevenson walked the first three batters he faced and they all scored. Marshall’s Mason Schnaible had a key two-run double through the right side of the infield.

Stevenson calmed down the next three innings and held Marshall to one run, but Tanner Neale led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to open up a two-run inning for the A’s as they began to pull away. Marshall scored seven runs over the final three innings to end the game early.

Marshall leadoff batter Ben Korger led the way at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a double, two walks and two runs scored. Zach Olson was 2-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored.

It was a solid night at the plate for the A’s, but Culhane said they’ll need to get better for the postseason. They open the Region 7B playoffs next weekend in Richmond, with their opponent to be determined.

“We didn’t have a ton of hits right away but we eventually got into it,” Culhane said of Friday’s offensive effort. “We didn’t have any practices this week but we’ll have to practice this next week to get prepared to go against teams in the region. We’ll have to hit a couple times so we’re in the game right away and have good at-bats.”

Castlewood 100 000 0-1 5 3

Marshall 301 022 3-11 11 2

C-Matt Stevenson, Aaron Pickrel (6), Logan Lambrecht (7). M-Nate Dickhausen, Jaron Christenson (2). WP-Christenson. LP-Stevenson. 2B: M-Mason Schnaible, Tanner Neale, Ben Korger.