As submitted to Ortonville Independent (6-28-16)
The Rox were back in Land O' Ducks League action on Wednesday night, June 22nd and beat the Minneota Mudhens 9-2 in Ortonville. After a week and a half of contemplating back to back losses to Sunberg and Montevideo, the Rox were eager to get back on the field. Leading up to game time the Rox were unsure which Mudhens team they would face. Minneota had suffered losses to some tough teams including Morris, Montevideo and Chokio, with a couple impressive wins over Clinton and Rosen. But, the Mudhens also suffered a loss to a weak Dawson team.
With the Rox ace Chris Fellows taking the mound there was little concern over missing two of their top players and third basemen in Joe Fuller and Jeff Watson. Their absence gave Aaron Quinn the start at third base who played very well. However, without the bats of Fuller and Wason the offense had trouble scoring early. Mudhens starting pitcher Danny Hennen struck out five of the 12 batters he faced. A second trip through the lineup helped the Rox bats heat up. Centerfielder Chris Doney led off the fourth inning with a double, advanced to third on wild pitch and scored as Isaac Knutson reached on a fielding error by the Mudhens shortstop. The Rox would put the ball in play the rest for the game suffering no strikeouts in the remaining five offensive innings.
The Rox ended up scoring nine runs on 11 hits, with the help of five doubles. Riley Sammon led the Rox with three hits, one for a double, he also drove in a run and scored. Dan Berdan and Doney had similarly productive days, matching each other with two hits and two runs scored. Berdan had a single, double and a run batted in, while Doney had two doubles and two runs batted in. Chris Fellows added a hit and run scored. Aaron Quinn had a single, run batted in and eventually scored in his one plated appearance. Isaac Knutson had a hit and run batted in.
Rox fielders had an easy day as the Mudhens were unable to hit ball solidly against pitchers C. Fellows and Curt Schake. With the win C. Fellows moved to 4-0, he pitched 6 innings, striking out 12, allowing only two baserunners on two hits, neither of which scored. In impressive fashion C. Fellows struck out the side in both the third and fifth innings. C. Schake: pitched final three innings, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, he struck out two. C. Schake was good but lacking his normal command which resulted in the three bloop hits and two runs. Following the two runs C. Schake returned to form getting three straight outs to finish the game.
The Rox took another four days of rest as their Friday, June 24th game against Appleton was rescheduled to Friday, July 8th.
On Sunday, June 26th the Rox gathered in Hancock to face the second year Hancock Orphans. The Rox would come away with a 3-2 victory, but it was a hard fought game. The Orphans like the Mudhens were a potentially threatening team to the Rox as they obtained their first win over a .500 team.
Offensively the Rox got plenty of guys on base, but struggled as they scored only three runs on eight hits and 11 walks. The Rox notched their first run as John Thomas crossed the plate in the top of the second on a well hit ball by Riley Sammon. For the second straight game Sammon connected for three hits in five at bats, with one run batted in. Chris Doney also had a good day offensively with one double on two hits in his only two official at bats, but was on base with all five plate appearances after earning three walks. In the third inning C. Fellows led off with a single and scored on a double by C. Doney to put the Rox ahead 2-0. In the fourth inning Dan Berdan singled stole second and was driven in on Joe Fuller's double. That 3-0 lead would put an end to the Rox scoring as they stranded 12 baserunners, eight of which were in scoring position.
The Orphans proved to be a fundamentally solid team, both defensively and offensively. Defensively they were not flashy, but remained error free. Offensively, they were very similar, not much power or speed, but took pitches, limited their strikeouts and played small ball to produce runs against good pitching performances by starting pitcher Chris Fellows and reliever Tony Schake.
Against C. Fellows in seven innings the Orphans produced only two runs, one earned run, on eight bloop hits and two walks. Along the way Fellows struck out five as a 25-30 mph wind was throwing dust from the dirt infield in his face. T. Schake came in with the lead 3-2 to pitch the eighth and ninth innings and delivered the Rox first save of the year. T. Schake pitched two scoreless innings of relief as he faced two extra batters due to walks, he allowed no hits and struckout the final batter with the tying run on second to win the game.
The next Rox game will be in Rosen on Monday, July 4th at 2:30. That game will be important in helping determine the Rox (7-1) playoff position as they try to chase down the Land O' Ducks Wood League leading Morris Eagles (8-0) and stay ahead of the Clinton Cardinals (6-2) and the Chokio Coyotes (7-3).