Pitcher Brock Wanninger matched his season total of college innings in one outing Sunday, June 9, with the Utica Home Talent team.
The left-hander, who pitched nine innings last season at Loras College in Dubuque, equaled that Sunday with a complete game, 15 strikeout effort that led the A’s past the host Waterloo McKays 5-4. Utica improved to 3-4 in the Southeast Section with the win, while Waterloo dropped to 1-4.
Despite the double-digit strike total, Wanninger and his defense made things interesting over the final two-and-a-half innings.
“Everything started out pretty well but as it went on, I got a little tired,” Wanninger said. “The most I threw in an outing this year at Loras was two innings.
Wanninger, who spent the last two seasons with the Stoughton Merchants but rarely saw much action, came over to Utica in hopes of seeing more innings this summer before going back to college.
“I think it’s different for everyone. For me for sure, I didn’t throw as many innings as I would have liked at Loras,” Wanninger said. “Baseball is a year-round job. You can’t take any time off. You have to keep building yourself up and getting better.”
Utica opened up a 3-0 lead through seven innings Sunday before Waterloo fought back to twice pull within a run.
Waterloo’s Travis Noel singled through the right side with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. One out later, Louis Hensler drove him home on single lined into the left center-field field gap. Hensler moved into scoring position with a stolen base and came around to score with two outs on a dropped fly ball in left field.
Utica pushed its lead back out to three with two runs in the top of the right. Connor Kolawski reached base on an error with one out and Christian Stokstad singled to score him one out later. Wanninger helped his own cause, following Stokstad with an RBI single of his own for a 5-2 lead. And Utica would need every one of those runs, committing two errors and uncorking a pair of wild pitches.
Ethan Quimby led off the eighth, reaching base on a throwing error that allowed him to take second. One out later, Ben Vehlow reached as first baseman Sam Raff was unable to handle a throw to the bag, which allowed a run to score. A walk and two wild pitches later and Vehlow scored to cut the lead to 5-4.
Wanninger refocused and closed out the game strong, registering strikeouts for all three outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“Coming out today and throwing nine innings, it was a lot of pitches,” he said.
“My stamina was down and I kind of lost my control but I just tried to keep myself composed and do the best I could.”
Utica’s Ben Hildebrandt doubled, stole third base and scored on a passed ball to open the scoring in the first inning. Wanninger scored Jacob Schultz on a sacrifice fly to right in the fifth and Hildebrandt went with a pitch, doubling in left field to plate Wanninger in the seventh.
Utica traveled back to Fort Atkinson on Thursday for its consolation game and lost 3-1 to Johnson Creek. Noah Schafer got the start and did well until giving up a two-run home run.
“It was more of the same for us, we couldn’t get the clutch hit,” Stokstad said.