With the WIAA tournament just around the corner, Kiel baseball coach Brad Mey met with his team before Friday’s matchup against Sheboygan Falls and talked getting on a roll entering the postseason.
The message came through loud and clear.
Alex Winkel struck out seven in tossing a four-hitter, Austin Goehring blasted a two-run home run to key a big fourth inning and the Raiders wrapped up the Eastern Wisconsin Conference season with a 7-1 win over the Falcons.
“We had a long talk that this was the time to go and they came out ready to play,” Mey said. “It’s a big win against a really good opponent and we needed it.”
Kiel, which entered the game having lost five straight and 11 of its last 13 games, outhit Sheboygan Falls, stole four bases – including home, twice – and only committed one error behind Winkel, who blanked the Falcons for the first five innings.
Sheboygan Falls did get two runners on in the first inning, but Winkel got a fly ball and line drive to end the threat and start a string of eight straight batters retired.
“It felt good. I was able to come through for my team, which felt good,” said Winkel, who walked only one in the game. “I found the outside corner today, that’s what worked and my curve was working today. It happens once in a while, but today it worked pretty good.”
Winkel also started the Raiders’ five-run fourth inning with a double, but that only set the stage for the biggest hit of the game.
Goehring followed by launching a ball into the trees beyond the right field fence off Falcons’ starter John VanderPloeg to turn a one-run lead into a 3-0 cushion.
“It felt pretty good, but I thought it would be close,” said Goehring, who stole home on a double steal for the Raiders’ first run in the second inning. “We’ve been struggling lately to get runs in and it just helped us out.”
Goehring finished 2-for-2, drew a walk and scored three runs and Mey hopes that the performance brings his No. 5 hitter out of a recent slump.
“He’s been working through some struggles and tonight maybe broke him out,” Mey said. “That big swing really brought life back into us, I think it rejuvenated us and I think it was we needed moving forward.”
Zach Lensmire followed with a single as the Raiders tacked on three more runs. Lensmire scored when Hayden Smith reached on a fielder’s choice, Ben Mannenbach stole home on the back end of a double steal and Nick Walsh smacked an RBI single to plate Smith for a 6-0 lead.
Goehring scored on a Sheboygan Falls error in the fifth to cap the scoring for the Raiders.
“They’re a good team. We knew we had to get up right away,” Goehring said. “It feels real good for us.”
Sheboygan Falls scored its lone run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Kyle Peterson, but that would be all the Falcons could muster against Winkel.
After allowing the run in the sixth, Winkel bounced back in the seventh to finish the game strong. He fanned all three batters he faced in the inning to close out the win and hopefully set the tone for things to come for Kiel.
“I was just firing them. Got in the groove,” Winkel said. “I’m proud of all the guys. Hopefully this will get us back on a winning streak here, now that we got one to start us.”
Steve Clark: email@example.com or follow on Twitter at @skcreno27