CUBA CITY – Grant Kunkel sped home on a passed ball with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning for the game’s only run as Cuba City escaped with a 1-0 SWAL win over the visiting Darlington Redbirds at CCHS on Thursday, May 17.
Darlington’s Tyler Black locked up with Cuba City’s Darien Reese in a classic pitcher’s dual through six innings as neither allowed a run to touch the plate. Black yielded five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five over his six shutout frames, while Reese surrendered just two hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
The Cubans (9-11 overall, 7-7 in SWAL) stranded runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and the Redbirds (2-14, 1-12) had runners in scoring position in the third, sixth and seventh stanzas.
Senior Brandon Hardyman led off the Darlington seventh with a single off Cuban reliever Einar Frimodt, but a pair of fielder’s choice groundouts eased the threat a bit. Griffin Heinberg walked to put Redbird runners on first and second, but Frimodt fanned senior John Sturtz– who had two of the Redbirds’ three hits on the day– to get out of the jam.
Kunkel reached base on an infield single off Sturtz with one down and he moved around to third on a Redbird error. Then, with the game on the line, Kunkel raced home when a Sturtz offering got by Redbird catcher Cole McDonald for the game’s only run as Darlington dropped its second straight one-run decision.
Kunkel went 2-for-3 for the Cubans and Kyle Frederick added a double for the hosts.
At Darlington, on Tuesday, May 15, the host Redbirds outhit Riverdale 13-9 on the night, but the Chieftains won the battle on the scoreboard as they held off the ‘Birds, 5-4, in SWAL action.
The Redbirds grabbed a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on first baseman John Sturtz’s three-run home run, but the Chieftains (6-7, 9-11) rallied for three runs of their own in the top of the sixth to regain the lead.
The guests tacked on a key insurance run in the seventh to go ahead 5-3. That run would prove to be important after the ‘Birds got a run back in the bottom of the inning, but they could get no closer as the Chieftains held on for a 5-4 win.
Jason Singer took the tough loss on the mound despite tossing six solid innings for the ‘Birds, and he aided his own cause by going 3-for-4 at the plate. Sturtz and Aric Geissbuhler each had a pair of base hits in the game, and Cole McDonald added a double for the hosts.
Darlington received the #6-seed in their WIAA Division 3 tournament regional bracket. The Redbirds will travel to Lancaster to take on the #3-seeded Flying Arrows (10-11) on Friday, May 25, starting at 2 p.m. The winner advances to play at Mineral Point (16-6) in a regional semifinal game on Tuesday, May 29.
Riverdale….. 001 003 1 - 5 9 1
Darlington… 000 030 1 - 4 13 0
Leading Hitters: Jason Singer 3x4, Aric Geissbuhler 2x3, John Sturtz 2x3. HR- Sturtz. 2B- Cole McDonald.
WP- Meister. LP- Jason Singer.
At Darlington on Tuesday, May 15
Darlington… 000 000 0 - 0 3 3
Cuba City…. 000 000 1 - 1 6 0
Leading Hitters: John Sturtz 2x3.
WP- Frimodt. LP- John Sturtz.
At Cuba City, on Thursday, May 17