Baseball: Witt-Birn drops first game in home clash with Wausau East

Errors prove costly for Chargers

By Morgan Rode

Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Wittenberg-Birnamwood’s Austin Worzalla fires a pitch during Tuesday’s nonconference game against Wausau East. Worzalla worked 3 2/3 innings in the contest.

Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Wittenberg-Birnamwood’s Will Urquhart prepares to swing during Tuesday’s nonconference game against Wausau East. Urquhart reached on an error in four at-bats and also pitched one inning.

Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Wittenberg-Birnamwood’s Michael Gibson looks up to see a popup he hit during Tuesday’s nonconference game against Wausau East. Gibson finished with two hits and drove in the team’s lone run.

The Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School baseball team suffered its first loss of the season to Wausau East on a cold and breezy Tuesday. Failing to take advantage of scoring opportunities and having defensive errors proved too much to overcome in the team’s 12-1 nonconference home loss.

“I think getting behind early with a younger team, they haven’t met that block or wall that they hit tonight,” said Witt-Birn coach Dan Kapitz on the difference between the team’s first three games and Tuesday’s contest. “We just kind of checked out after getting down 3-, 4-, 5-0, and there was just no life. With a young team, that’s something we will be talking about and hopefully we can learn from that.”

Junior Simon Stewart earned the start on the mound for the Chargers (3-1) and looked to be on his way to a scoreless first inning before Wausau East (2-0) came to life with two outs.

A walk put runners on first and second before a single made it 1-0. After another walk loaded the bases, an error allowed the Lumberjacks to score again.

Stewart did a good job of limiting the damage, getting a groundout to end the threat.

Witt-Birn was able to put a single runner on base in both the first and second innings, but they could not push them around.

Wausau East then was able to bust open its lead with a six-run third.

A single started the inning before the next batter was hit by a pitch. After a fielder’s choice, the Chargers’ third error of the game allowed two runs to score.

The next three East batters singled to increase the lead to 6-0 before sophomore Austin Worzalla was able to force a groundout for the second out. The Lumberjacks weren’t done yet though, as the next batter singled to plate two more runs.

“Errors happen in baseball — at the major league level you see errors. It’s the response to errors that really counts,” said Chargers senior Kody Szews. “Ideally, we go out and play an error-less ballgame. But at the high school level, it’s rare. We do need to work on looking the ball in and moving our feet a little better. We’re a young team, and I have confidence in our ability to be better baseball players and learn from mistakes.”

After getting the final two outs of the third, Worzalla settled in and kept the Lumberjacks off the scoreboard for the next three innings.

The Chargers had a chance to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the third after singles from senior Shane Herb and Szews, but the hosts couldn’t take advantage.

Witt-Birn loaded the bases in the fourth after walks from senior Jack Stewart and Worzalla and a single from junior Jacob Groshek, but again, the Lumberjacks kept the Chargers off the scoreboard.

Worzalla worked out of a bases-loaded jam of his own in the fifth. After tossing a scoreless sixth, he gave way to junior Will Urquhart on the mound for the seventh inning.

Four of the first five Lumberjacks reached base in the seventh, which turned into a four-run frame to make it 12-0.

The Chargers continued to battle until the final out.

Herb walked before sophomore Larken Betry reached on an error. Szews then hit a bloop single that loaded the bases before senior Michael Gibson blooped a single down the right field line.

The bizarre play brought home Herb, but East threw to third and tagged out Betry after he rounded the base.

That’s where the rally ended, as the next batter went down on strikes, putting an end to the Chargers’ early winning streak.

“With three wins over respectable teams, that should give us a little boost in itself,” said Szews, who finished with three hits and a stolen base. “We need to learn from our mistakes and just put this game behind us. We know we’re better than losing that game by 11 runs. I think if we play them again, we could beat them. Sometimes it’s better to learn, practice and just put that game behind us.”

Witt-Birn’s three pitchers ended up allowing nine walks while striking out three batters. Four of the 12 runs allowed were unearned.

Gibson finished with two hits and was one of just four Chargers batters not to strikeout.