“It was just one of those games, I really didn’t feel very good,” said Jon Berger, who mentioned that he was mentally fatigued throughout the game. “I was just battling; my defense was working early for me. I was just trying to give us a chance to win.”
Berger kept the ball down, which allowed the Ems defense to make plays, but he also kept the Bears off balance with an impressive changeup.
“The changeup started working later on,” Berger said. “I got comfortable, [catcher Jason Hagerty] was helping me on my release point on it, letting me know when I was forcing it. I just felt good in the later innings.”
“He’s got a great changeup,” said manager Greg Riddoch. “He’s got a great work ethic, he’s got a routine, he’s a professional the way he approaches what he does.”
After seven innings, Berger was relieved by former starter Chris Fetter, who was recently moved to the bullpen.
“I enjoy it,” said Fetter of his bullpen role. “This is a role I really haven’t ever been in before. Ever since college, I was a starter all four years. I enjoy coming to the park everyday knowing that there is a possibility to get it.”
In two innings of work, Fetter overpowered the Bears with his fastball, as he struck out four batters and didn’t allow a walk.
“I just go in there and try and throw as many strikes as I can, just get quick outs, and just keep the lead for a guy like Berg, he did great tonight.”
Like Fetter, the Ems also moved starting pitcher Nick Greenwood to the bullpen, with hopes that both pitchers can help the Ems close out games in the middle to late innings.
“It’s something where we’ve been struggling in the past, just keeping wins for our starting pitcher,” Fetter said. “It’s a good role, I enjoy it and I’m going to keep having fun with it.”
Despite the final score, both offenses were stagnant for the majority of the game. The Ems scored one run in the fourth, which would have been enough for the win, but couldn’t muster any more offense until the eighth inning, when they exploded for six runs on five hits. The breakout inning came after Bears’ starting pitcher Chris Odegaard, who allowed four hits and one run in seven innings, was replaced by Brad Gemberling to start the eighth inning. Gemberling lasted just 1/3 of an inning, giving up four hits, two walks and six runs.
The Ems batted all the way through their lineup, as Kyle Loretelli led the inning off with a double. After Ems’ shortstop Kevin Winn advanced Loretelli to third base with a sacrifice fly ball to centerfield, Jason Codiroli brought Loretelli home with an RBI single. Vincent Belnome then walked and Edinson Rincon connected for a single to load the bases. Ems’ first baseman Nate Freiman followed Rincon by smashing a two-RBI double of the wall.
“It was nice to score those runs in the eighth inning, but the way our pitchers were throwing tonight, one would have been enough,” said Freiman. “Our pitchers won this game for us tonight.”
The Ems are now 6-5 in their last 11 games. Game two of the five game home series between the Ems and the Bears begins Saturday at 7:05 p.m.