By Denny Weller
Special to The Free Press
If Mankato West baseball coach Ethan Anderson was disappointed about the Scarlets’ season-opening 4-3 loss to Rochester Century Tuesday at Franklin Rogers Park he didn’t really show it.
After a sluggish start by the Scarlets allowed Century to grab a 4-1 lead, West turned things around before eventually stranding runners on second and third base in its final at bat. Junior left fielder Isaac Weber, junior shortstop Tyler Stoffel and sophomore catcher Conor Wollenzien ripped two hits apiece as West outhit the Panthers 9-4 in a contest where each team left six on base.
“We didn’t quite have the timely hits in certain situations,” Anderson said after Game 1 of the doubleheader. “We also handed them a couple of runs but it was our first game and I am sure there were some jitters. We had a few base-running blunders too but, for the most part, we competed and I am happy with the way we looked first game out.”
The Scarlets came back to earn a win in Game 2 as Ian Schwickert hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth to score Stoffel in a 5-4 victory.
Josh Cook got the win in relief, pitching 2 2/3 innings of hitless, shutout relief. Schwickert worked the first 5 1/3 frames and did not allow an earned run.
Cook led the attack, going 3 for 5 with an RBI.
In the first game, West junior right-hander Ryan Schlichte fanned the first three batters he faced but the Panthers took advantage of a pair of errors — one coming on a lead-off strikeout — to plate an unearned run. After first-inning doubles from Stoffel and Wollenzien evened things, Century tallied three runs in the top of the second to regain the lead.
Schliche recorded seven strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings before exiting after 60 pitches. Reliever Josh Cook allowed just three hits over the final 4 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking one.
“We did pretty good with our hitting but we had a few mental errors in the field,” Wollenzien said. “You just can’t get the atmosphere inside and we had a few errors being out for the first time.”
West trimmed the deficit to 3-2 in the third when Stoffel reached on an infield error, stole second, moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball. The Scarlets, who stole four bases, wasted a chance in the fifth inning before Wollenzien double into the left-center field gap in the sixth was followed by Cook’s run-scoring floater into left field.
Each team scored a run the rest of the way.
“We stuck in it and made it a close game,” Stoffel said. “We just have to eliminate the mental errors and keep hitting. We’ve all got experience and we’re all capable so we should have a good year.”
West (1-1) is scheduled to face Mankato East today in a 4 p.m. start at Franklin Rogers Park.