After Freeburg’s first three batters came to the plate Monday, the Midgets already had a 3-0 lead against Waterloo.
A double by Cody Siebenberger, single by Ty Dill and a two-run homer by Keegan Baxmeyer got things off to a flying start and Freeburg held on for a 5-3 nonconference baseball victory over the Bulldogs.
“They’ve got three quality hitters right at the top of their order and if you face Freeburg, you’d better be ready to go out of that bullpen,” Waterloo coach Mark Vogel said. “Noah (starter Noah Thaggard) found that out today. About seven or eight pitches and all of a sudden you’re down 3-0. They’re going to do that to a lot of teams if you don’t come out of that bullpen ready to go.”
Freeburg (7-1) didn’t sprint to the plate on each at-bat, but the offensive aggressiveness was exactly what coach Drew Gericke wanted to see.
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“I preach to the kids to come out swinging,” Gericke said. “There’s no reason to come out and be lazy with the bats, (so) come out aggressive and good things happen. Luckily we did that pretty well today.”
Baxmeyer’s father, John Baxmeyer, was a star player for Waterloo High School.
“To be honest I really don’t like Waterloo,” said Keegan Baxmeyer, a first-team News-Democrat All-Area catcher as a sophomore. “I’ve grown up with these guys, I played with them when I was young. It may not mean a whole lot to the guys on (our) team but it means a lot me. I made a big focus to come out here and play a good game.”
Baxmeyer, 3-for-3 with a walk, smiled when asked about beating his father’s old school.
“That makes it a little bit better,” he said. “I definitely like beating Waterloo.”
He also likes pounding opposing pitchers. Through eight games, Baxmeyer is hitting .652 (15-for-23) with a home run and seven RBIs.
Vogel had Baxmeyer’s father for a teammate both at Waterloo High and with the Waterloo Buds of the Mon-Clair League.
“They’re built the same way,” Vogel said. “They’re very strong, he’s just like his dad from that standpoint. He can hit just about any pitch to any part of the field with power. I see a ton of similarities between him and his dad.
“He’s a handful — and so was his dad years ago. Keegan can just flat-out play.”
Baxmeyer came up big in the sixth, throwing out Kaiping trying to steal second after Kaiping had led off the inning with a single.
“That was huge,” Gericke said. “He can do a little bit of everything. He hits the ball well, but his defense has come a long way. When we first got him last year he was a little lazy on the defensive side, but he’s ready to go this year to make himself an overall catcher. To throw him out in the sixth inning with a one-run game there was key.”
After a bases-loaded walk to Freeburg’s Will Hogan by Ben Maurer pushed the Midgets’ lead to 5-3 in the top of the seventh, Waterloo threatened again.
Waterloo (5-3) kept chipping away after the slow start, getting a run in the second on an RBI double by Erik Kaiser and another in the fourth on Cole Kaiping’s RBI single.
Freeburg starter Elias Czech (2-0) pitched well, allowing three runs in four-plus innings before Joe Wolf came on in relief in the fifth. Waterloo had the bases loaded with no outs and managed to push across only one run on a sacrifice fly by Hayden Bender.
Gericke credited both his pitchers for holding down a solid Waterloo lineup.
“(Wolf) doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience,” Gericke said, “and he was going to be in there until the end, win or lose, to get that experience and that fight for what it takes to finish out a varsity contest.”
The Bulldogs had runners at second and third with one out, but Wolf struck out Chase Rubemeyer and retired Bender on a ground ball to the mound.
“I think we’re taking too many pitches in those situations,” said Vogel, whose club stranded eight runners Monday. “We stranded a lot of runners and as many runs as we’ve scored at times, we’ve also left a lot of baserunners.”