Pitchers pace Legion victories

Pitchers love it when their teammates provide them with run support. The more, the better.

Milaca American Legion pitchers Matt VanSomeren and Brian Kiel were able to bear down against North Branch in a doubleheader Tuesday, July 2, at Milaca, knowing they had some runs to work with.

Both pitched three-hitters and both went the full seven innings. Milaca topped North Branch 9-1 behind VanSomeren in the first game and Kiel pitched Milaca past North Branch 7-3 in the second game.

“It’s great to get back-to-back pitching efforts like that, especially in a doubleheader, said Milaca Manager Bart Naumann. “And, our bats really came alive.”

VanSomeren struck out four and walked three and held North Branch scoreless through six innings.

“It was Matt’s usual stand ‘em up, set ‘em down game,” said Naumann. “He pitched to contact and let the defense do its job and he kept his pitch count down.”

Milaca, behind a bases-loaded double by Zack Streff, took charge with four runs in the third inning and two more in the fourth.

Justin Fransen had three singles and Jorgen Erickson had a double and a single as Milaca totaled 10 hits. Fransen also had two stolen bases.

Kiel struck out four and walked six. The Walks got him in trouble in the third inning when North Branch scored its three runs, but he settled down and didn’t allow another run.

Milaca, which pounded 15 hits, broke a 3-3 tie by scoring two runs in the fourth inning and two more in the sixth.

Mike Garber cracked a double and two singles while Kiel and Hunter Foss each had three singles. Fransen and Nick Wolbert each had two singles.

“We had solid hitting right through the batting order,” said Naumann. “Those 1-0 pitching duels are exciting but I’d much rather have that big offense.”

The victories boosted Milaca’s record to 6-4.

Milaca will meet Mora in a one-game playoff at Milaca Thursday, July 18 at 6 p.m.. The winner of that game will advance to the Division II Sub-State Tournament, which opens Monday, July 22.