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  • Val T.

Erickson has 2 RBIs, but Bremen baseball ends Pioneer’s season

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC


Brayden Erickson

WABASH — This year’s sectional baseball game between Pioneer and Bremen was closer than last year’s, but the outcome was the same.

Bremen’s competitive at-bats forced Pioneer pitcher Brayden Erickson to throw 115 pitches, and the Lions went on to earn a 6-4 win over the Panthers in a Class 2A, Sectional 36 quarterfinal at Wabash’s Chris Rood Field Wednesday.

Aden Hunziker had two hits and four RBIs for Bremen, including the go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the fifth that gave Bremen a 5-4 lead.

They added an insurance run when Silas Laidig reached on an error with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth.

Meanwhile, Bremen senior relief pitcher Kaden Martin retired the final eight Pioneer batters to secure the win. 

Bremen improved to 11-11 and earned a spot in the semifinals against Rochester. Rochester won Wednesday’s first quarterfinal 3-2 in eight innings over No. 8 Manchester.

Erickson had a double and two RBIs, and Brodie Howard and Lane Weldy also had doubles for Pioneer, who ended their season on a four-game losing streak and finished 10-14. Lucas Perry had a hit and an RBI, and Drew McKaig reached twice on a single and a walk. Eli Guffey contributed a single.

Martin relieved starter Camden Hickman to start the fifth, and Pioneer erased a 4-1 deficit within a span of four batters: Howard walked and went to third on Guffey’s single. When the throw to try and get Howard at third was late, Guffey moved into second.

Erickson then yanked a two-run double to left to score Howard and Guffey, and when the throw to try and get Erickson at second was wild for an error, the sliding Erickson got back up and advanced to third.

Perry then got ahead in the count 3-1 and lifted a sacrifice fly to medium-deep right to tie the game 4-4.

Pioneer would get only one more baserunner the rest of the night. Still, it was an improvement upon last year’s 11-1 loss to Bremen in the sectional.

“Offensively, this is one of the better sectional appearances we’ve had,” Pioneer coach Josh Hardy said. “Last year, I think we had only three hits. This year, we had six. … But we had a much better approach at the plate. The whole goal for our season was to get better each day. After our game Monday against Mississinewa (a 7-0 loss), Tuesday we had practice, and really, it was just cleaning things up and calming them down, and that’s why the approach at the plate was different for us as well, and we were able to attack their pitchers.”

Bremen responded. Zack Rouch walked with one out in the fifth. Silas Laidig singled him to second. Two batters later, Hunziker lined a single to center to score the go-ahead run.

With Erickson nearing the pitch limit for a game – per IHSAA rules, pitchers can throw no more than 120 pitches – Hardy replaced Erickson with Noah Miller to start the bottom of the sixth.

Pioneer needed just two batters to score the game’s first run. Drew McKaig led off with a walk against Hickman, and Howard, a freshman shortstop, smoked a double to the left-center field gap to score McKaig from first.

Erickson had a one-hit shutout with six strikeouts through three innings, but Bremen tallied four runs in the fourth the second time through the order.

Rouch singled, Laidig walked, and J.J. Cencelewski singled to load the bases. Hunziker worked a 3-1 count and then hammered a liner to the right-center field gap that brought home three runs.

Two batters later, Max Barnes drove in a run with a grounder to short that was booted for an error.

“They’re a good offensive team,” Hardy said. “We knew going in that they were going to hit the ball. Last year, when Brayden threw against them, we knew they were going to be making contact. After three innings, you could tell they adjusted off Brayden. Really, they were just sitting fastball for the most part and trying to hit that outside fastball away from them. … They’re coached well. They have a good approach at the plate.”

The momentum changed in the following half-inning.

Bremen 6, Pioneer 4

Pioneer 100 030 0 – 4 6 2

Bremen 000 411 X – 6 7 2

WP – Kaden Martin (3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K)

LP – Brayden Erickson (5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 9 K)

2B – Brodie Howard (PIO), Lane Weldy (PIO), Brayden Erickson (PIO)

3B – Aden Hunziker (BRE)


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