By Murray Gleffe
DE PERE—With two outs and bases loaded, the Pirates baseball team couldn’t get the hit it needed and ultimately fell to Eau Claire 6-4 in a legion game played June 29 at Westwood Elementary.
“James got us a great lead-off hit in the top of the seventh and then two consecutive walks,” said Jesse Wiltzius, Bay Port head coach. “We just couldn’t string together multiple runs after the initial one. The kids fought hard, though, right to the last pitch.”
Gabe O’Brien got the win for Eau Claire going five innings, giving up two runs and striking out five.
Carter Highline took the loss for Bay Port.
With temperatures soaring toward the upper 80s, fans sought refuge wherever they could during the game as part of the three-day De Pere Invitational played at two sites.
After a scoreless opening inning, Eau Claire got on the board first with a solo homer by Jack Fentress, and then added to the lead after Jackson Falkner came in from third base after a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates battled back in the third inning.
With two outs, and Mike Aikins on third, Adam Bernklau connected on a double to left field that scored Aikins to cut the margin to one.
“He (Adam) has improved his swing,” added Wiltzius. “He started as my nine hitter and has made huge strides with his plate batting.”
Bryce DeBouche and Drew Slaasted connected on singles that brought home Bernklau home and suddenly the game was deadlocked at two apiece.
Eau Claire then showed why they have multiple hitters averaging over .300 in summer legion action.
With two outs in the fourth, the leadoff through the number four hitter went single, double, double and triple in succession to score three runs and give Eau Claire a 5-2 lead after four innings.
“I felt like Carter was hitting his spot during that inning,” Wiltzius added. “Give credit to those kids for connecting on pitches outside the strike area and not only hitting them but hitting them hard and deep.”
With the Pirates trailing 6-2 heading into the top of the seventh, they weren’t about to go down without a fight.
Bornick doubled to left field to open the inning.
Aikins and Will Destiche walked, loading the bases for Bay Port.
Bornick came across the plate after Bernklau was hit by Eau Claire reliever Mason Bauer cutting the lead to 6-3.
After a double play was turned by Eau Claire, (scoring an additional run for Bay Port) the Pirates couldn’t muster a late charge and a pop out ended the game.
“We were a late fill-in for the Green Bay BlueJays,” added Wiltzius. “We had a mixture of JV and Varsity players that took part in these four games and I thought they did a good job. I think our hitting is coming around and I look forward to the month of July with a lot of games still left.”
Bay Port: 002 000 2—4
Eau Claire: 020 310 x—6