Herald Journal Sports Editor
WATERTOWN – No matter what the score might be, the Young America Cardinals are always in a game. They’ve proved that time and time again, and they did it one more time against the Watertown Red Devils in a crucial Crow River Valley League matchup July 9 at Highland Park.
The Cardinals rallied back in a back-and-forth affair throughout to pick up a huge victory over the Red Devils with a 15-5 victory. Young America was forced to rally twice, and once they took the lead for the second time, it was all theirs this time.
The Red Devils got off to a perfect start in the crucial matchup. After holding the Cardinals off the board in the top of the first, Watertown wasted no time in getting the offense going in the bottom half. Pat Tschida led off the inning with a stand up double, and with one out, Ben Smith gave the Red Devils an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single.
Although the Red Devils got off to a nice start at the plate, it quickly became a pitcher’s dual between Young America’s Dillon Whittaker and Watertown’s Zach Iten. From the second to the fifth inning, there were just four base runners between the two teams as Whittaker and Iten were in control on the mound.
In the top of the sixth, Young America finally got on the board, but it could have been more. Brice Panning led off the inning with a single, and Matt Mann followed that up by drawing a walk. Roch Whittaker then followed with a single to left, but sloppy base running by the Cardinals came back to haunt them. Panning was run off third base and forced to come home, and a great throw from behind home plate from Iten to Jared Duske got Panning for the out, keeping Watertown ahead 1-0. Two pitches later, Mann scored on a wild pitch, tying the game at one.
The Red Devils were unable to answer in the bottom of the sixth despite another double from Tschida, sending the game to the seventh still locked at one.
After finally getting on the scoreboard in the sixth, Young America found a way to grab their first lead of the game. With two outs, Isaac Hormann and Panning drew back-to-back walks to keep the inning going. Mann made the Red Devils pay for the walks with a double to the gap, giving the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.
Trailing for the first time in the game, Watertown answered back immediately. Ryan Hangartner and Mitch Kelzer had back-to-back one-out singles, and the Red Devils had something cooking. With two outs and the bases loaded after Justin Kohls drew a walk, it was Tschida who delivered again with his third hit of the night. A single to center scored a pair, tying the game at three, but Watertown didn’t stop there.
Jordan Berrios reached on an error that brought in another run, and Tschida later scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 5-3 Red Devils after seven innings of play.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the eighth. Down once again, Young America caught fire at the plate to turn the game completely around. The Cardinals batted around and scored eight runs in the top of the eighth to grab an 11-5 lead over the Red Devils.
In the top of the ninth, the Cardinals added on even more. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Roch Whittaker blasted a grand slam to center field, putting a bow on a huge win for the Cardinals in impressive fashion.
With the win, Young America improved to 11-3, moving into first place in the CRVL South. With the loss, Watertown fell to 7-5 in the CRVL North.