Baseball: Cardinals withstand Carlson's pitching
Jeff Ryan knew that his Prescott team would be challenged at the plate when up against three-year varsity pitcher Brett Carlson in the Thursday, May 31, No. 1 Prescott vs. No. 4 Osceola WIAA Division 2 regional baseball game.
"We've had luck against him," head coach Ryan said, "but any time a pitcher like Carlson goes to the rubber, Osceola has a chance to win."
Despite holding the Cardinals to six hits, Carlson took the loss of Thursday's regional game after giving up four earned runs to the Cardinals who found ways to create opportunities for themselves without consistently hitting the ball hard.
"When you put the ball in play, good things happen," Ryan said. "We don't always need line drives, but we put the ball in play and they made mistakes in the field."
The Cardinals took a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning after two innings filled with pop outs and ground outs once Noah Matzek and Hunter Daymond managed to put the ball in play and bring in the three runs Prescott needed to survive the playoff game.
Daymond's double that brought Matzek home would be Prescott's final run of the game, but the Cardinals found other ways to seal the deal in the field.
When Osceola got within one run of Prescott, Andrew Rozmiarek forced two groundouts that were recovered by Peter Brookshaw in the top of the sixth. Rozmiarek replaced Matthew Langer, the game's winning pitcher, who threw for five innings on the mound and allowed two earned runs on seven hits. Langer was also 3-for-3 at the plate to lead Prescott.
The Cardinals were retired in the bottom of the sixth after leaving Langer on base, but were saved in the top of the seventh by a Joe Roosen back up that Ryan, a high school baseball coach of 29 years, said was one of the best plays he's seen in his coaching lifetime.
Osceola's second batter of the final frame singled to Brookshaw who overthrew to Payton Brownell at first, but Roosen had the first baseman's back and was able to relieve his team of a probable error by throwing out the runner when he tried to advance to second on the miss throw. "Everybody remembers the hits, everybody remembers the home runs, but that's the play that won the game," Ryan said.
"I think if we keep up this strong defensive play then we should remain pretty confident," Roosen said.
Ryan said his team that hasn't played a clean game since its sixth game of the season will have to tighten up all parts of its play prior to the upcoming regional finals game against the Ellsworth Panthers whose pitchers will have no restrictions thanks to having a two-day break before their Friday regional game.
"We've got our work cut out for us," Ryan said. "They've got four outstanding seniors who've had a lot of success at Ellsworth. We're going to have to be on top of our game tomorrow."
Roosen, who's familiar with competing in playoff games that have jeopardized his high school career, feels confident going into the Friday, June 1 regional final game against the Panthers.
"We'll just play the same," Roosen said. "If we worry, we're going to lose."
Prescott will have little margin for error against the talented Panthers team that prides itself on its depth on the rubber and will have to create more Roosen-esque plays if they want to advance to sectionals and stray from the fate Carlson and his classmates were dealt on Thursday night.
The Cardinals will host the No. 3 Panthers at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 1 at Firehall Field for the Division 2 Sectional 1 regional final game.