Middleton's HTL team moves to 10-0

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MTT News's picture
Adam Hatlan/For the Times-Tribune
Drew Farrell threw a complete-game shutout as Middleton rolled past Ashton on Sunday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

In baseball, “ace” is used to describe a team’s number one starting pitcher, someone who can lead his team to victory with his arm.  

Middleton starting pitcher Drew Farrell looked every bit the part of an ace on Sunday, going the distance and leading the 29ers to a 7-0 win over Ashton.

Middleton improved to 10-0 in the Northern Section’s East Division and leads second place Black Earth by four games. Ashton fell to 5-5 and will need to fight for its postseason lives over the final month of the regular season.

Farrell dazzled while hurling a complete game. Farrell threw just 99 pitches and limited Ashton to four hits while striking out four.

Farrell rarely faced adversity in the game, dancing around two Ashton rallies in the fourth and sixth innings.

“Best I’ve seen him look in quite a long time,” Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand said of Farrell. “He was getting ahead of hitters. He only had a couple of times where he got behind (in the count). He knows he can go out there and throw, and whether he strikes the guy out or not, he’s feeling good with the guys behind him (on defense).”

Ashton induced some hard hit balls off Farrell, but wasn’t able to find any holes in Middleton’s defense.

“(Farrell) was pounding the strike zone,” said Ashton manager Dave Adler. “Every time we had something going, we hit the ball right at somebody.”

“Great defense. We (scored) on them early, and I knew if I pitched strikes we’d be OK,” Farrell said. “It was important to get ahead (in the count), locate, and let my defense do the work.”

Ashton starting pitcher Derrick Rothwell, coming off a strong start last week, got roughed up early against the patient Middleton hitters. Rothwell threw 83 pitches in just three innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits.

Kevin Peternell pitched four innings in relief for Ashton, allowing just one unearned run on four hits. Adam Nutting then worked a perfect inning.

“I was really happy with the way Kevin Peternell pitched,” Adler said. “He kept us (in the game).”

Ross Hellenbrand led the way offensively for Middleton with three hits. Josh Hinson had three RBI for the 29ers.

Liam Belleveau was a bright spot for the A’s offense, finishing with two hits.

“We were able to capitalize on some of the pitches (Rothwell) left over the plate,” Ross Hellenbrand said of the offensive attack. “Sometimes you don’t capitalize on them, sometimes you do. Today we were able to get on (Rothwell) early.”

Middleton is now hitting .364 as a team, limiting opponents to a .231 batting average, and outscoring its foes, 104-24.

“We didn’t hit the ball exceptionally hard today, but we’ve been able to put our bats on the ball and get base hits (this season),” Brandon Hellenbrand said. “We have a good thing going (offensively) right now.”

Middleton opened the scoring in the first, as Hinson started a string of four consecutive hits with a double to score Brandon Scheidler. Andrew Zimmerman followed with a single of his own to score Luke Schafer, and Brennan Schmitt capped the inning with a single to score Zimmerman to give Middleton a 3-0 advantage.

The hit barrage continued in the second, as Hunter Bindl, Scheidler, and Schafer started the inning with hits. Bindl came around to score on a single by Schafer, and Hinson had his second RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly that scored Scheidler and gave Middleton a 5-0 lead.

In Middleton’s half of the third inning, Brennan Schmitt cracked a one-out single. He advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on a passed ball by Ashton catcher Derek Prochaska, putting Middleton ahead, 6-0.

Middleton scored its final run of the game in the fourth without recording a hit. Luke Schafer reached on an error, advanced to second on a botched pick-off attempt, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Hinson groundout. It was Hinson’s third RBI of the game and made it 7-0.

Bindl and Schmitt both finished with two hits each, and all but one 29ers reached base safely. Schafer had a big day reaching base four times.

“We’ve been taking advantage of other team’s errors, hustling like crazy,” Brandon Hellenbrand said. “We’ve been putting the pressure on everybody. We just have to continue to play the way we’ve been playing and we’ll see where this can go.”

“Prepare every day like you’re 0-0,” Farrell said. “We’ve got the talent. We just have to perform.”

On deck: Middleton travels to Cazenovia and Ashton hosts Black Earth on Sunday. Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m. starts. 

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