DE PERE — Alex McIntosh and Aaron Fink knew Friday with a strong wind behind them if each was on his game it would be difficult to score runs in a key baseball game between Bay Conference heavyweights Hortonville and West De Pere.
As it turned out, both were on their games and they produced two gems, combining for 19 innings of scoreless baseball and just eight hits.
Maybe the difference Friday was McIntosh went 10 innings and Fink nine, because in the top of the 10th inning Hortonville struck for four runs against the Phantoms bullpen and pulled out a 4-0 10-inning win. The win evens out the season series between the teams as on Tuesday the Phantoms edged the Polar Bears, 3-2.
“You’re either down two or you’re even (with West De Pere),” Hortonville coach Don Williams said. “We can look ahead and hopefully stay in the race. That was a great game. I’m excited.”
“This was huge to bounce back in a close game against a good team,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh and Fink each scattered four hits, and while the wind might’ve been a challenge to pitch with, it was also a challenge for hitters to drive the ball as most fly balls hung up in the air, allowing them to be caught. However, each team had chances to win the game in regulation.
West De Pere (6-2, 2-1) had the bases loaded in the ninth inning with one out but the Phantoms couldn’t score, mainly because of a terrific diving catch by left fielder Connor Hafeman to end the inning. In the fourth inning, both teams had runners reach third base but stranded them.
While pitching dominated, McIntosh said it wasn’t easy in the wind, which gusted from left field to right field.
“I thought it hurt me because it was going against my curve ball,” the left-hander said.
It’s not too often a pitcher goes 10 innings, but Williams said McIntosh had one inning left in him. It also didn’t hurt that Hortonville (4-2, 2-1) scored four runs to give McIntosh a cushion.
“I said you got about 15 pitches,” Williams said as to how long much longer McIntosh could pitch. “His arm’s find but he told me his legs were getting tired. He’s a piece of work. He’s a competitor. He didn’t throw that hard, but it’s tough to throw with that wind. We needed him to come up big.”
On a windy day Hortonville did just that, and like all pitchers, McIntosh believed his team would come through.
“We got a good team but knew at some point we’d break through,” McIntosh said. “They have good pitching. Sooner or later a team would get some runs, it was just a matter of time.”
“They’re a good team. We had a great defense today. Connor made a huge play in the ninth inning with the bases loaded. That was tremendous.”
Marinette (4-0 Bay) and Denmark (2-0 Bay) are the remaining perfect teams in the Bay after Friday, but most figure the conference race will come down to West De Pere and Hortonville. Time will tell, but Friday’s win was big.
“We needed a boost like this because we haven’t been playing really well,” Williams said. “This should really help our confidence.”
- West De Pere…2-1
- New London……0-2
- Oconto Falls…..0-3
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay