Plum City goes home blue following 11-1 shellacking from Cavaliers

It was a different day and a whole different attitude for the Eau Claire Cavaliers on a beautiful 80-plus-degree early Sunday afternoon at Carson Park.

Coming off a 1-0 forfeit in their season opener against the Osseo Merchants last week, the Cavaliers’ bats came alive and they were buoyed by strong pitching to drub the Plum City Blues, 11-1, in a non-conference game that was called after seven innings due to the 10-run rule.

The Cavs quickly got Plum City out in both the first and second innings, while building up a lead by the end of two innings in a fitting tribute to the mothers in the stands in honor of Mothers Day. Both the Eau Claire and Plum City players paid homage to their mothers prior to the game by handing out roses to those mothers who were in attendance.

Caden Erickson, who led the Cavaliers in at bats last season, hit a ground rule double to center field to kick things off for the home team. That was followed by Xavier Bembnister securing an infield hit that moved Erickson to third base. Blugolds’ star, Carson Windeshausen got to first next on an error from Plum City and Erickson then got into home to score the first run of the game.

That was followed in the bottom of the first by Cole Tyman getting a base hit to left field which got Bembnister to home and eventually Windeshausen would also get home safely, too. Runs by Tyman and Eli Rathke made it 5-0 after one inning and the two additional runs by the Cavs in the next inning put the home team up nicely after two innings of play.

Also fitting nicely into the Cavaliers’ lineup was starting pitcher Andrew Milner, who didn’t allow a hit from the visitors until the third inning. The Blues got an unearned run in that stanza, but that was all for them up to that point and actually for the entire game that was finished in about two hours.

A new pitcher for Plum City in the bottom of the third didn’t do all that much to change what would be the eventual outcome of the game. With bases loaded, the Cavs started at the top of their lineup hoping to add to their already monumental lead. Cooper Dykes got in to home to score off an Erickson RBI and was quickly followed by Trenton Palmer and eventually joined by Brayton Thillman to make it 10-1 at the end of third with the bases full.

Things calmed down for the Blues, as there were no runs, no hits and no errors for the Cavs in the bottom of the fourth and the score remained with Eau Claire possessing a nine-run lead over the Blues.

The fifth inning saw Milner still on the mound for the Cavs and no additional runs from either squad. The Eau Claire pitcher was replaced by Tyson Woodcock in the top of the sixth inning after the starter posted impressive numbers through his five innings. Only one unearned run was earned by Plum City. The Blues had only four hits, zero walks and were struck out five times on Milner’s watch.

With Woodcock on the mound, it remained 10-1, Cavaliers, as the game entered the bottom of the sixth inning with the home team up to bat. Despite showing some promise, no new runs were scored by the home team in that stanza and they ended the inning leaving two men stranded on base.

Woodcock continued at pitcher to start the seventh inning and it was still a nine-run home advantage as the inning entered its bottom half. With Lucas Costley warming up in the bullpen, ready to possibly start if there was, indeed, an eighth inning, all the Cavaliers would need is one run to end the game.

They got it when Cooper Dykes scored to end the game due to the 10-run rule and the final was 11-1, Cavaliers. Milner got the win for Eau Claire, while Zach Watkins was credited with the loss on the mound for Plum City.

Following the win, Cavaliers field manager Ryan Bembnister was not only feeling pretty good about how his boys played, but was ecstatic with everything they brought to the diamond in the win.

“The pitching was amazing,” Bembnister told the Leader-Telegram following the victory, noting that the work on the mound was definitely a strength on Sunday afternoon. “Obviously only one unearned run got through our pitchers. Patience at the plate paid off.”

Bembnister added that “the energy level of our kids (as a team) was amazing. I love how they have bounced back from tough losses the past two years” since he has been the field manager of the squad.

The field manager noted that a combination of his players wanting to get the win on Mothers Day and avenging that forfeit to Osseo that occured last Sunday when the Cavaliers were down to having only seven men left to play on the roster motivated them in the game against Plum City.

“Our goal was to get out in seven innings,” he noted.

And the Cavaliers added a huge checkmark on that goal, prompting Bembnister to comment on what the level of play Sunday says about this team moving forward.

“These guys take such pride in being a Cavalier,” the field manager said, noting that this team is the epitome of what the Cavaliers are all about and he is proud of their tenacity.

He noted that having 17 players on the lineup — as opposed to only 11 at the start of the game against the Merchants — provided the Cavaliers with not only more options, but also allowed him to better map out what he wanted to do against Plum City.

“Once you get 15-18 guys, you can strategize,” the field manager noted, adding that he expects to have a 22-man roster available for play by Memorial Day.

The Eau Claire Cavaliers now stand at 1-1 on the young season and will next take to the road this Saturday when they face off against the Spooner Cardinals. First pitch in this non-conference game is set for 1 p.m. at the First Street Baseball Field. That game will be followed by a Chippewa River Baseball League doubleheader at Casper Park against the Tilden Tigers on Sunday afternoon. Two seven-inning games are slated to begin at 12:30 p.m.