Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day migraine

Memorial Day is usually the first time of the season where a team really has a chance to prove its mettle.

It’s one of the few times all year when a team will have to double up likely on both Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend.

Anyone who follows Home Talent League baseball knows that there’s both a Sunday day league and a Thursday night league, but it’s the Sunday games that really count.

Each team’s staff ace usually takes the mound on Sunday except for the holiday weekends centered around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. In order to complete the league schedule, the games played on these two holidays count towards the Sunday league standings.

Teams will need a secondary starter to fill those holiday games, and it’s those games that could decide who will win their section.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to maybe having another double up weekend because it really shows more of the depth that some teams have,” said Columbus manager Juan Guerrero. “You get to face some of the first and second tier pitchers instead of having a team ride one pitcher.”

Depth is exactly what will be needed in order to get through the weekend unscathed. In order to go 2-0 on Memorial Day weekend, teams will have to get a good performance from their No. 2 starter, not an easy task to do.

Pine Bluff knows the situation all too well. They rode their ace Justin Lambert to a complete game victory over Black Earth on Memorial Day, but they lost a tough game the day before to Plain when Brandon Carlin took the mound.

“(Carlin’s) from Mount Horeb, but he goes to school in LaCrosse so he just got done with college,” explains manager Jerome Krantz. “So he just came back last week.”

Many Home Talent League teams face the same problem. They’re short handed early in the season until a couple of their players get home from college for the summer. And then, like in the case of Carlin, they’re expected to pitch critical games on very little preparation.

Sauk Prairie takes the stance of having their staff ace pitch the first game of a double up weekend no matter who they’re playing according to playing manager Trent Sorg.

And it’s not as if Sorg is too proud to stray from that strategy. In addition to being Sauk Prairie’s manager, he’s also their No. 2 starting pitcher. Sorg gave the ball to Paul Lerenz on the first game of the weekend in a victory over Ashton. Lorenz ended up going all nine innings while striking out seven and issuing only one walk.

“On a double up weekend we usually play game to game,” said Sorg. “The first one comes, and that’s the one we shoot for. We play each game one at a time. We try not to look ahead too far. Paul’s our ace. He threw tonight because that was our first game. I’m probably going to throw the game Monday, but you have to play the game that’s in front of you and not look down the road.

“Anybody can beat anybody on any given day so that’s kind of how we look at it. You don’t want to look by anybody.”

Reedsburg, meanwhile, got a break. The Pirates had to play on Sunday with staff ace Jeremy Horkan who got them a complete game 8-2 victory over Middleton.

Lucky for them, their bye came on Memorial Day due to an odd amount of teams in the Northern section. And it’s not as if there’s a huge drop-off from their No.1 to their No. 2 starter, but, regardless, Reedsburg would have been without their No. 2 man if they had to play on Monday.

Their secondary pitcher is Steve Hedgepath who was understandably busy while suiting up for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater while competing in the NCAA Division III College World Series over the weekend.

So while some teams are struggling to stay afloat over Memorial Day weekend, Reedsburg has a 3-0 record in the Northern section of the Home Talent League. And they get Hedgepath back soon. That’s good news for Reedsburg and bad news for the rest of the H.T.L.

Next weekend’s Home Talent League road trip: Lake Mills at Jefferson on Sunday June 1st

Photo: Middleton and Reedsburg stand at attention during the national anthem during Memorial Day weekend.

Photo credit: Brian Carriveau

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