EagleHerald/Brian Bell
Redbirds first baseman Waldimer Rivera gets down to block a grounder during Sunday’s season-opener against Pulaski at Pedersen Ball Park.
EagleHerald/Brian Bell

Redbirds first baseman Waldimer Rivera gets down to block a grounder during Sunday’s season-opener against Pulaski at Pedersen Ball Park.

MARINETTE — It’s been years since the Marinette Redbirds baseball team has started off the season with a win, but on Sunday that streak was snapped as the Birds beat the Pulaski Reds 6-5 thanks to a walk-off single from newcomer Trevor Bloch in the bottom of the 10th inning.

“It feels awesome to get a win to start off the year, it’s been a while since that has happened so to start off the season on the right foot is a good feeling,” Redbirds first-year coach Scottie Eldredge said.

Waldimer Rivera singled between the shortstop and third baseman to start off the bottom of the 10th for Marinette and pinch runner Tanner Cole advanced to third on a single to deep left-field from Riley Reif to set things up for Bloch. Bloch came through with a single to right-center field and Cole crossed home to start the Redbirds off 1-0 in their first year in the Dairyland League.

Matt Eldredge started on the mound for the Redbirds and did well in shutting down the Pulaski hitters. He threw three scoreless innings and had one strikeout while walking three and not allowing a hit.

The Redbirds scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Jordan Powers walked and advanced to third on Chris Lafeber’s one-out single. Powers scored on an error by the Reds catcher to plate the first run of the year in the first inning of play.

Things were quiet afterwards for both teams until the top of the fourth. Brian Bell came in to relieve Eldredge on the mound and was roughed up for two runs (one earned) in the inning. Pulaski’s Jason Infusino reached on an error by the third baseman and later scored on Nate Beder’s bloop single. The Redbirds had a chance to get out of the inning when Bell coaxed a grounder to third, but the throw to first was just late on a double-play attempt and the second run scored, giving Pulaski a 2-1 advantage.

Marinette got both runs back and then some in its half of the fourth when Bloch lined a two-out single to right to start a rally, Powers doubled in the next at-bat and Jason Hofer walked to load the bases for Lafeber. With the count sitting at one ball and one strike, Lafeber launched a bases-clearing shot to deep left-field just out of reach of the Reds’ left-fielder to give the Redbirds back the lead at 4-3.

“We got big hits when we needed them,” Eldredge said. “I wouldn’t say we played our best baseball. There’s definitely things we need to clean up but for the first game of the season I thought we played well.”

A head’s up play in the left-field by Bloch allowed Bell to have a quick fifth inning. With a runner on second, Pulaski’s Hunter Larson hit a line-drive to left. The runner took off on contact, but Bloch was able to get to the ball, make the catch and throw to second in time to turn an inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the fifth, Marinette got another run when Rivera singled and scored on Reif’s RBI-double to the corner in left-field.

Pulaski nicked Bell for two more runs in the sixth before Eldredge pulled him for Austin Marquardt. A single and a walk to the first two batters put runners on first and second with no outs, and the next batter laid down a bunt right up the middle back to Bell. In an attempt to throw the runner out at third, Bell wheeled around and let it loose and the ball was off target, rolling to the fence and allowing the runner to score. That was the end of Bell’s day on the mound, and he was still responsible for the runners on the bases.

Marquardt came in and after a strikeout, allowed a single to load the bases and walked a run in before sitting the final two batters down on strikes. In total, Bell gave up four runs (two earned) in two innings while allowing three hits, walking one and striking out two.

After walking in a run, Marquardt was solid on the bump and was able to keep the lead until the ninth when Pulaski tied things up.

He walked the first batter of the inning and a sacrifice bunt and flyout to deep center field followed. With a runner on second, Jason Infusino lined a single to right-center that scored a run. Marquardt was pulled after issuing a walk for Riley Hegg, and Hegg got out of the inning with no further damage after a groundout.

Marquardt threw 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run (one earned) on two hits with five K’s and three walks. Hegg was credited with the win, going 1 1/3 innings and giving up one hit.

Eldredge noted that all of the things the team has to clean up are easily fixable, and that this win shows a lot about the team’s willingness to fight to the end.

“We missed getting some bunts down and were mixed up on signs a few times and walked a few too many people, but most of the things are just mental mistakes that are easily cleaned up,” he said. “Hitting wise, we hit the ball really hard and got clutch hits when we needed them which is encouraging to see this early in the season. We didn’t give up and came out with a win.

“Don’t let the Birds get hot.”

The Redbirds host Bonduel on Friday night.

WP — Riley Hegg 1 1/3 IP, 1H, 0R, 0W, 0K

Leading hitters (Marinette): Jordan Powers 2-3, 2B, 2R, SB; Chris Lafeber 2-5, 2B, 3RBI; Riley Reif 2-5, 2B, RBI; Trevor Bloch 2-5, RBI, R; Waldimer Rivera 2-5, R.

Pulaski 000 202 001 0 — 5

Marinette 100 310 000 1 — 6