High school baseball: Milton unable to notch timely hit
MILTON—The Fort Atkinson High baseball team needed just four hits to remain undefeated in the Badger South Conference on Friday.
The Blackhawks had just one hit and advanced just two baserunners past first base in the first six innings at Milton, but Armando Bouton delivered a two-out, two-run single in the seventh.
It paved the way to a 3-1 victory at Schilberg Park. Fort Atkinson moved to 9-1 overall and 4-0 in conference, while Milton is 3-5 and 2-3.
“That was awesome; it was a quality at-bat—he battled and battled and then put one in play,” Fort Atkinson coach Mark Rowley said. “That's kind of what we try to challenge them with, putting the ball in play.
“Milton is a great team. It's a rivalry … and we knew coming down here it was going to be a battle.”
Red Hawks starting pitcher Drew Rust and Fort Atkinson hurler Alex Bakken dueled for the better part of six innings.
Rust retired the first seven batters he faced before Clay Ehrke drew a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a passed ball in the third inning. Bakken then helped his own cause, driving Ehrke in with an RBI single.
Rust tossed six innings of one-run, one-hit ball with four strikeouts and a walk.
“It's the second time in a row that he's (pitched well) for about six innings,” Milton coach Ryan Neuenschwander said. “He spun it really well, and he's growing, where he said, 'I'm done, Coach.'”
The Red Hawks didn't answer until the fifth inning, when Justin Lynch led off with a single and later scored on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Hunter Jensen.
But Milton stranded a pair of runners after that, and it loaded the bases with one out again in the sixth and couldn't plate a run. In the seventh, Rob Guenther and Tyler Westrick each singled, but the potential tying runs were left on first and second base.
“Their (well-struck ball) went where they needed it,” Neuenschwander said. “Ours, in the sixth inning, was right at the third baseman.
“We were doing the things, but we just did not get our timely hit.”
Bouton, the Blackhawks' center fielder and No. 9 hitter, came through in the clutch when it appeared Fort Atkinson might strand two runners of their own in the seventh.
His grounder up the middle scored Michael Rowley and Owen Chady, who had back-to-back singles to start the inning. Chady, who threw 1 2/3 innings of relief, picked up the win.
“They're undefeated, and we're obviously not as hot, but we were right with them,” Neuenschwander said. “It's encouraging and frustrating at the same time.
“We've got to spin it as a team of, we're building. It was a tough week, conference-wise—we played undefeated Stoughton and undefeated Fort Atkinson (this week). Stoughton had our number, but we were right with … Fort Atkinson today.”
FORT ATKINSON 3, MILTON 1
Fort Atkinson 001 000 2—3 4 1
Milton 000 010 0—1 6 4
Bakken, Chady (6) and Ault; Rust, Bowen (7) and Whitehead.
Leading hitters—Bakken (FA) 2x4; Westrick (M) 2x4; Bowen (M) 2x4. 2B—Bakken (FA).
SO—Bakken 2, Chady 1, Rust 4, Bowen 2. BB—Bakken 5, Rust 1, Bowen 2.