REGAL — After a slow start to his outing, Regal starting pitcher Chris Beier got into a groove.
Allowing a run in the opening inning, Beier held Starbuck in check the rest of the way as the Eagles captured a 4-1 County Line league victory Sunday from Beier Field in Regal.
The veteran right-hander tossed a complete-game six-hitter. He struck out three without relinquishing a walk.
“I was basically just hitting spots, making them put the ball in play and using our defense,” Beier said.
The game originally was scheduled to be played in Starbuck, but with the Stars’ home field in use for the Minnewaska VFW tournament, the contest was moved to Regal. Despite playing in their home ballpark, the Eagles were the visitors on the scoreboard.
Following a one-out base hit from starting pitcher Austin Versteeg, Starbuck had runners on first and second base in the bottom of the third. Starting a stretch of 12 consecutive batters retired, Beier worked out of trouble by getting cleanup hitter Mike Kragenbring to pop out to shortstop and designated hitter/manager Mike Andreas to ground out to short.
After giving up four hits in the first three innings, Beier allowed two baserunners in the final six frames.
“He was keeping us off-balance, mixing his pitches really well,” Andreas said. “Our guys were just trying to do too much, me included.”
With Starbuck down 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, first baseman Jack Hendrickson ripped a one-out single past a diving attempt from third baseman Nathan Meyer to snap the Stars’ hitless stretch. But the hosts on the scoreboard never threatened again thanks in large part to the Eagles’ defense.
Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Jordan Wozmek robbed Starbuck shortstop Mike Gruber of a base hit with a sliding catch in centerfield. Then, to begin the ninth, Jordan Beier took away an Andreas’ single with a diving backhanded stop at short.
“(Our defense) was very good. All-around, it was a good group effort,” Chris Beier said. “There were good plays in the outfield and the infield.”
Scoring infielder Matt Gruber, Knagenbring drove in the game’s opener with a bloop single in the first. Regal tied the game at 1-1 in the second when Chris Beier belted an RBI double to left-center to bring home Shane Rademacher.
The Stars took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when a safety squeeze bunt from first baseman Will Roguske scored outfielder Blake Karsch from third. Regal padded its advantage following a Meyer RBI single to left in the seventh and Karsch scoring on a wild pitch in the eight. Going 3-for-3 with a double, Karsch was the only Eagle with multiple hits.
VerSteeg also tossed a complete game, but took the loss, relinquishing four runs (all unearned) on eight hits and four walks. He struck out nine, but couldn’t match his performance against the Eagles three weeks prior, where he hit a pair of two-run home runs while pitching all nine innings during a 5-1 victory.
“He’s a bulldog, he’s our ace,” Andreas said of VerSteeg. “We live and we die with him. Pitching wasn’t an issue, we didn’t help him with our bats.”
In front of a crowd more than twice the size of its town’s population, Regal not only avenged its only defeat this season, but jumped into first place in the division with a 5-1 league mark.
“It's always a battle with these guys,” Eagles manager Nathan Beier said. “We have a good rivalry-type relationship.”