Late innings boost Oconto Falls to 12-7 win over Shawano

Oconto Falls scores 7 over final 2 frames
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Three walks, two errors and a double in the sixth inning allowed the Oconto Falls American Legion team to retake control and defeat Shawano, 12-7, Friday at Memorial Park in Shawano.

Just one half-inning after the Patriots’ posted a six-run fifth inning to pull ahead, 7-5, Oconto Falls regained control of the contest.

Oconto Falls pulled within one on an error, and then two batters later, with the bases loaded, Cliff Yuma drove a ball deep to center field to clear the bases and put the visitors ahead by two. Yuma tallied five RBIs on the night on three hits.

“Cliff was hitting it well tonight,” Oconto Falls head coach Alex Seidel said. “We had a couple other guys that, by the end of the night, were seeing the ball coming in on them.”

Oconto Falls tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the seventh on Kamden Bloom’s triple, an error and a Mike Manns double to right field.

The Patriots’ only big inning, the fifth, came against Dylan Nelson, who walked the first three batters he faced before Connor Klish singled to center field to drive in two runs. Cole Nelson, the next batter, drove in another run, and then an error tied the game at 5.

Starting pitcher Bryce Gagnow singled to right field to score two more runs. After Parker Pues walked, Seidel made a pitching change to Manns.

“(Dylan) Nelson, he’s got good stuff,” Seidel said. “We trust him, and I think you saw that inning, we trust him a lot. He’ll get it. He’s a good young pitcher.”

Manns entered for Oconto Falls (2-1), which opened the year with a loss to Denmark on June 6 and then defeated Wrightstown on Wednesday, and walked Brett Ainsworth before striking out Kien Moorman to end the threat. Shawano (0-1) did not score on Manns over the final two innings.

Shawano assistant coach Patrick Carroll was happy with the Patriots’ performance at the plate, which included seven hits.

“I think the hitters for the most part seemed comfortable and aggressive in the zone,” Carroll said.

An error allowed Oconto Falls to score first in the second inning, and then Michael VerVelde singled to double the lead. Yuma had a two-RBI triple in the third inning as Falls pulled ahead 4-0, and a wild pitch brought home the visitors’ fifth run of the game.

From there, Gagnow settled down, allowing just two hits and a walk over the next two innings. Gagnow threw 5 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and seven earned runs.

His curveball was keeping the Oconto Falls hitters guessing.

“That’s nice curveball,” Seidel said before explaining his message to his team. “‘He’ll throw it. If he leads with the first pitch, he’s going to put it there. Don’t be afraid to turn on it, but just make the most or your opportunities.’”

Yuma pitched three scoreless innings for Oconto Falls, giving up four hits and two walks. Connor Peetz threw the fourth, giving up one earned run on Noah Brodhagen’s RBI sacrifice to second base that scored Nelson.

Oconto Falls, which advanced to the state tournament last summer, is looking to continue improving over the course of the next two months.

With Clintonville hosting the Class A tournament, the Bonduel regional, in which Oconto Falls competes, will send two teams to state. The Diamond Cats get an automatic berth for hosting the tournament, while seven other teams will get a shot to win the double-elimination tournament and also move on.

“The goal there is to just carry it forward,” Seidel said. “We had that great run last year, and it’s great if we can get there.”

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

Oconto Falls 0 2 3 0 0 4 3 12 10 1

Shawano 0 0 0 1 6 0 0 7 7 4