The Utica Home Talent baseball team split two games last week.
The A’s (4-7) lost to rival Stoughton 6-3 on Friday, Aug. 7, at Utica Community Park. That came on the heels of an 8-3 road win the day before at Columbus.
“The goal is to get some baseball in,” Utica manager Christian Stokstad said. “Guys wanted to keep playing so we did our best to go outside Dane County to play. Hopefully, people are responsible and responsible for their own safety. I think everyone enjoyed the game.”
Utica started the season playing exhibition games hoping to play a Home Talent League season before the season was called off because of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our first few games you can throw out the window a little bit because we were using a different pitcher every inning,” Stokstad said. “It’s hard to quantify the record. Sometimes you lose guys if we didn’t have a team this year, they may not play next year.”
Stoughton 6, Utica 3
Locked in a tie game with Utica in the top of the seventh inning in a Home Talent League exhibition game, Stoughton’s Adrian Montilva was sitting for a fastball, but expecting a curveball from Utica pitcher Brock Wanninger.
Montilva blasted a go-ahead solo home run into the cornfield in right field in the top of the seventh to spark the Merchants to a 6-3 win over Utica on Friday.
Stoughton (10-1) scored three runs in the seventh to seal the victory. After Montilva’s home run gave the Merchants a 4-3 lead, Winder Fuetnes singled and raced to third on a dropped third strike and scored when the throw got away to give the Merchants a 5-3 lead. Yonardo Herdenez raced to second on the throw to the plate.
With two outs, Andres Moreno beat out an infield single and Herdenez scored to extend the Merchants’ lead to three runs.
“I maybe could have handled the pitching a little differently, but Brock was cruising there through the fifth and sixth,” Stokstad said. “I thought we would have a short leash in the seventh. It was a tough way to lose the lead. We all want to win here against Stoughton.”
Wanninger pitched six innings for Utica and gave up three earned runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked two.
Montilva went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. Fuentes was 2-for-4 and Herdenez scored two runs.
Montilva pitched three shutout innings to get the win on the mound, striking out seven and walking one. He allowed two baserunners — a walk and an infield single by Wanninger in the sixth.
Early on, the game had the makings of one that could go down to the wire. With two outs in the first, Herdenez walked and stole second before David Hanson reached on an error that scored Herdenez.
Nick Waldorf singled leading off the second for the Merchants before Montilva delivered an RBI double to give the Merchants a 2-0 lead. Montilva stole third and scored on an error to extend the lead to 3-0.
“We gave up a few runs we would have liked to get back,” Stokstad said. “They didn’t hit the ball really hard and they had a couple of runs in because we were not making the plays. We gave them a few outs and they capitalized. It came back to haunt us later in a tight game.”
Utica rallied with a three-run third off Stoughton starting pitcher Ben Riffle. Utica’s Connor Kalinowski singled leading off the third and scored on a wild pitch. Saxton Shore then reached on an error before Ben Hildebrandt came through with an RBI single. Hildebrandt later scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 3-3, as a pair of Stoughton errors helped open the door.
Utica 8, Columbus 3
Aaron Zimmerman struck out 12 in a complete game road win at Columbus on Thursday.
“Aaron pitched a gem,” Stokstad said.
Max Gartzke blasted a two-out, two-run home run in the first inning to spark the A’s. Gartzke finished with three hits, including two doubles.
Hildebrandt and Ryan Ellingson, a 2020 Stoughton High School graduate, each had two hits.
Utica hosts Rio on Saturday and then plays at Jefferson on Sunday.