Hadley wins big at Irish Yard

MILROY – Hits and runs were hard to come by for the Milroy Irish as the Hadley Buttermakers cruised to a 10-2 win Wednesday evening at Irish Yard in rural Milroy.

Sam Erickson pitched a complete game and picked up the win on the mound for the Buttermakers, collecting five strikeouts while giving up six hits and two walks.

“I felt really good out there,” Erickson said. “All my stuff was working for me. But I strongly believe that I play in front of the best defense in the Gopher League. Without this defense, there’s a few more runs up there and a few more hits. And Trent (Carlson) was great behind the plate tonight. Everything just worked. It was a good win and a good move toward playoffs.”

Hadley capitalized early on Milroy hit batters by pitcher Tyler Peterson and by errors in the field. Nate Wieneke and Carlson advanced after being stuck while in the batter’s box, and coupled with singles from Max Zwart and Chris Halber, the Buttermakers put up two runs in the first inning. Hadley manager Myron Bennett was pleased that his team took advantage of what was given to them.

“We took advantage of their mistakes early,” Bennett said. “That’s the thing on these games, you have to take advantage of the errors and have to limit your own mistakes. I thought we did a good job of that”

The Buttermakers added to their lead, collecting three more runs in the second inning. With two outs, Wieneke advanced to first on a Milroy error. After Joe Larson drove in a run with a single to right, Nick Bruning blasted a two-run homer to put Hadley up 5-0.

“We didn’t get down in the count a lot,” Bruning said. “We were able to hit strikes early, take good pitches and run the bases well. When you string a few hits together, it’s pretty easy to put up a couple of runs.”

While things looked easy for the Buttermakers, the opposite was true for the MIlroy Irish. Mason Schnaible earned the team’s first hit in the second inning, but was stranded there. The Irish did not come up with another hit for five more innings.

“This was basically a lackluster game,” Milroy manager Bob Dolan said. “We just played really horrible. Their pitcher threw well, a lot of off-speeds and we had nothing as far as hits. We didn’t have any enthusiasm.”

Dolan was disappointed that his team did not come ready to play, quickly giving up two runs in the first inning.

“We hit two batters and gave them two runs early on,” he said. “Then we dropped the third out and the guy hits a home run. That just kills you. You can’t do that, especially against a good team. But that’s why they’re ahead of us in the league. They’re a good team. Hats off to those guys.”

The Irish strung three hits together and put up a run on the scoreboard in the seventh, sparked by back-to-back doubles from Peterson and Dakota Freiborg. Schnaible, who went 3-for-3, came through with a single, but two fly balls closed out the inning, stranding the two runners on base.

Milroy added a second run in the eighth. Daniel Frank reached on a Hadley error, Peterson singled and Freiborg earned a sacrifice fly during the rally. But that was as close as the Irish would get to closing the gap. Dolan is hoping that the game is a wake-up call for everyone, especially knowing that playoffs begin in a week.

“To me, it’s a gut check,” Dolan said. “We have to find out who we because we have playoffs next Wednesday. We threw our best pitcher and got rocked around. If we do that again, we’re going to be in a world of hurt. So we have to bounce back and come back better.”

The Buttermakers added a run in the fifth and seven and three more in the eighth. Bruning and Zwart led the team with 3-for-4 performances at the plate. Bruning had three RBIs, while Carlson also added three RBIS. Hadley was also superb in the field.

“Our defense has been playing pretty well the last couple of games,” Bennett said. “We made some sparkling plays in the field. Our shortstop makes a diving catch, throws to first and the first baseman scoops it up. Good on both ends. So hopefully we can keep on playing that way.”

Hadley is hoping to get a high seed for the upcoming tournament.

“We played well and Sam threw really well,” Bruning said. “It’s good to beat Milroy. They usually give us a tough time. We’ve got to hold our place if we want a top seed coming up on the tournament.”

Hadley (17-8, 13-4 Gopher League) is back in action on Friday in Pipestone against Luverne. The Irish are on the road Friday as well, taking on the Marshall A’s.