After Mondays pitching duel loss to up and coming Ortonville, the Comets boarded the bus Thursday having sharpened some of the skills they used to keep Mondays game close. Their practice sessions paid off in a big way as Wheaton struggled to catch up to a Comet team that is making a statement.
Having used hurler Sean McGuire to quell Ortonville's loud bats on Monday, Hillcrest sent Reggie Undseth to kick the rubber. Undseth peered through the batters box for five innings on the day, giving Hillcrest a chance to level their record when he marched to the dugout with a 4-2 lead.
The game started in a familiar way for the Comets. McGuire is known to make use of the base path, and his single to start the game was routine. Shouts from the Comet dugout wafted around McGuire who dusted-off his jersey with a steal of second during the next at bat. With first base open, Chris Tungseth gripped the bat a little tighter. McGuire is usually in scoring position for Tungseth. It's a sweet one-two punch for the Comets.
Tungseth singled and sent McGuire home to start the scoring. After Wheaton leveled the score on a fielder choice, they loaded the bases. Undseth calmly threw strikes and trusted his defense, walking to the dugout with a 1-1 tie while Wheaton scratched their heads and took to the field empty handed after their full-deck on the bases.
Undseth cooly worked Wheaton's lineup. At the end of the day he allowed 3 hits in 5 innings. The Comets rewarded his work with a three run 5th where Sam Ihrke boarded first base with one out for the Comets. Eric Konynenbelt tagged Sam Ihrke and took first base as a pinch runner. Konynenbelt stole second and moved to third on a throwing error. Head Coach Steve Undseth knows how to use his personnel.
Reggie Undseth singled for the Comets, driving in Konynenbelt to give the Comets a 2-1 lead before Tungseth doubled to make it a 4-1 score. Wheaton scored a run on Undseth in the 5th on a fielder's choice grounder, closing Hillcrest's lead to 4-2.
In the 6th inning Jake Steinle reached first, moved to second after Nick Foss executed a sacrifice bunt, and moved home after Sam Ihrke singled into the outfield grass. The run was pivotal for the Comets who faced an angry Wheaton lineup that nailed two doubles off Tungseth, closing Hillcrest's lead to 5-4.
Hillcrest took to the bats in the 7th knowing they needed to capitalize on the momentum they built in the previous two frames. When Tungseth reached on an error there was a new electricity in the dugout. Trey Bosek signled to move Tungseth to second before Colin Erickson took to the plate. With the back part of the lineup starting, Wheaton sat back with an expectation of leaving the inning down one run. Stepping into the box, kicking a slice of dirt over the back of the plate, Erickson peered in looking to push fellow underclassmen Bosek and Senior Captain Tungseth across the plate. With the crack of his bat Erickson darted to first. The high flying ball caught Wheaton off-balance. As Wheaton tracked the ball back it kept soaring. The ball reached the fence with thud and Erickson was half-way to second. Tungseth was holding his glove, readying his final inning of pitching and Bosek was high-fiving the dugout as the Comets stood with a 7-4 lead.
Tungseth held the frame scoreless and Hillcrest boarded the bus with a 7-4 win, scoring 6 runs with two-outs on the day. "I was so pleased with our two-out hitting today," noted Coach Undseth after the game. "Colin's hit was huge as it restored our 3-run lead. Reggie pitched very well in his first start of the year." Undseth noted that the two-out hitting was contagious for his lineup as the game grew closer. The important win now sends Hillcrest to Ashby with a 2-2 record as they host Ashby Friday at 4:30pm.