Stoughton first baseman Dave Hanson has played Home Talent baseball for so long not even he is sure just how many years it’s been.
The veteran, who believes it’s been 19 years, went 3-for-5 with a two-run double Sunday, June 2, in a 7-6 Southeast Section rivalry win in McFarland. Yonardo Herdenez (pitcher/outfielder) tossed 2 2/3 innings of relief and also plated two runs to help the Merchants.
“Games like these are character-makers,” Stoughton manager Dale Seffens said. “We were getting a lot of two-strike and two-out hits early but you have to give McFarland credit for never giving up.”
Stoughton scored four of seven runs with two outs and now leads the section with a 5-0 record after the win. Jefferson is 4-1 and Albion is 3-1. McFarland dropped to 1-3 with the loss.
Hanson had been struggling prior to Sunday and was moved down to the No. 8 spot in the lineup. Sunday was anything but a struggle for the veteran, who opened the game with three straight hits, including a two-run double that sparked a four-run fourth inning to give the Merchants a 7-1 lead.
“It takes me a while to get back into baseball shape,” said Hanson, who has a wife and two young children. “I don’t have a lot of opportunities in the offseason to get in a lot of swings and baseball is all about repetition.”
Despite jumping out to a big lead early, the Muskies fought their way back into the game with five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
McFarland loaded the bases with one out, drawing two walks and a single off Stoughton ace Ben Riffle. Following a timeout, Eric Seeliger cracked a two-run single into the right center field gap, which drew the Muskies to 7-3 and drove Riffle from the game.
Herdenez got the first batter he saw to ground out to Jake Wenzel at third before he walked Greg Riese to reload the bases. Schreiber singled home two runs for McFarland and Reid Simon singled home another to cut the lead to one run, 7-6, with two outs. Herdenez got out of the inning, inducing Brett Strode to ground out.
“McFarland is a really good hitting team and this all-synthetic field really encourages a lot of hits,” Hanson said. “I think we just got a bit complacent with the big lead.”
Riffle tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and three walks. He struck out three. Herdenez gave up one run on four hits and walk in relief. Brady Wedvick started for McFarland and allowed six runs on eight hits and six walks over five innings. He struck out three. Schreiber took the loss, giving up one run on five hits and three walks in four innings of relief.
Early on the game was all Stoughton as catcher Ryan Nyhagen hit a two-run single and Herdenez added an RBI single to spark a four-run fourth inning.
Herdenez helped his cause with two RBIs, including the eventual game-winner in the top of the seventh inning with one out. Caleb Broege led off the inning with a single to right field before Hanson grounded out. Tanner Klitzke and Ervin Medina were subsequently hit by a pitch and walked by McFarland relief pitcher Nick Schreiber to set the table for Herdenez, who flew out to right field. Broege scored on the diving catch to put Stoughton up 7-1.
Chris Lund followed, reaching base on a throw that pulled the Muskies’ first baseman off the bag. Stoughton was unable to do any further damage, though, as Nyhagen struck out for the second straight inning with runners in scoring position.
Stoughton opened the Thursday Night League with a 3-1 loss to Cottage Grove last week.
Erick Sperloen got the start for the Merchants, who carried 1-0 lead into the sixth inning. Medina came on in relief and Cottage Grove rallied with three runs.