GROTON – It was a rough start for Riley Kearin, but a very strong finish.
The Madison pitcher got stronger as the game wore on and helped lead Madison to a 9-2 victory over Lake Norden-Badger during the American Legion Class B State Baseball Tournament at Locke-Karst Field Saturday night.
After his team put up three runs to start the game in the top of the first, Kearin labored through a long bottom of the inning in which he threw 32 pitches and gave up a run.
It appeared it would be a short night, but Kearin was still on the mound in the sixth inning and still getting batters out.
“I have confidence in the kid. I knew he could make it. I was hoping for five and I get six innings,” said Madison coach Bill Fernau. “He got stronger as the game went on, he got better as the game went on. His curveball got better, his changeup got better. He just got more dominant as the game went on.”
A big reason why Kearin’s confidence continue to grow was because Madison’s lead continue to grow. The squad kept adding on runs and soon had a 7-1 advantage.
“I just gained more and more confidence as the team scored more and more runs,” Kearin said. “It really helped.”
Kearin, who eventually finished with 103 pitches thrown, said he wasn’t too worried about his high pitch count during the contest.
“I wasn’t that concerned, considering our team can hit a lot,” he said.
It turns out the three runs in the first, two coming on a single by Sam Olson, were all the runs that Kearin would need. Madison added three two-run innings after that to take control. Colby Vostad plated a pair with a double.
Meanwhile, Kearin kept on rolling, finishing with a two-hitter, both hits being triples by Jackson Noem.
It was the third meeting between the two clubs, who split the first two.
“The last couple of games they hit us really well,” Kearin said. “I just wanted to do my best and pitch really good.”
It wasn’t that Lake Norden-Badger hitters didn’t make solid contact. Madison just made the plays in the field behind Kearin.
“We hit the ball hard tonight, a lot of line drives, but that’s baseball. You can have some nights where you hit bloopers and they fall in, and you hit screaming line drives and they don’t,” said Lake Norden-Badger coach Brad Noem. “I thought we had good at-bats tonight. We really went deep into a lot of counts. We just couldn’t capitalize and put together that hit when we needed it to get back into it.”
Lake Norden-Badger faces Vermillion in the second elimination game this afternoon.
Madison meets Tabor in a battle of the last remaining unbeatens in the final contest today.
“The matchup with Tabor is going to be tough. Tabor is really good,” Fernau said. “They’re a solid team all around the field: pitching, batting, fielding. They are really solid.”
Madison 302 200 2 – 9 8 3
Lake Norden-Badger 100 100 X – 2 2 2
Riley Kearin, Peyton Wolf (7) and Sam Olson; Jackson Noem, Carson Stormo (7), Ryker Warrington (7) and Cristhian Rodriquez. 2B – Madison, Colby Vostad. 3B – Lake Norden-Badger, Noem 2.
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