Stevens Point Sixers finish 1-4 at Firecracker Classic
The Stevens Point Sixers American Legion baseball team went
1-4 at the 44th annual Ed Kardach Firecracker Classic at Bukolt Park
Friday through Monday, July 1-4.
The Sixers (5-8, 4-1) lost 6-1 to Beaver Dam Friday night
and then fell 5-3 to third-ranked Beloit Saturday, July 2, before they beat
Oshkosh 10-6 Sunday, July 3.
With most of the regular starters out of the lineup for a
pair of nonconference games against Wisconsin Valley Legion League (WVLL) teams
Monday, Point fell 10-0 in five innings to eventual Firecracker Champion D.C.
Everest and lost 9-4 to Wausau Sunday to finish 1-4 at its home tournament.
“We got a lot of guys playing time, but obviously I’m not
happy with the outcome of a lot of the games,” said Point manager Jason Rieck.
“We’re a real good team on paper, but when it comes time to play ball, we beat
ourselves a lot of the time.
“For most of our losses, you look up at the scoreboard and
you’ve got five, six errors, or you have 12 walks as a team,” he said. “You’re
not going to win many ballgames that way.”
The Sixers opened Friday night against Beaver Dam, which
used a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning off Nathan Olds to
take a 2-0 lead and added two more runs in the inning to go up 4-0.
Point right fielder Brady Franz was hit by a pitch to lead
off the bottom of the fifth inning and came around to score on a RBI groundout
from third baseman Brady Erickson to make it 4-1, but Beaver Dam added two more
runs in the top of the seventh to close the scoring on a 6-1 win.
Franz went 2-for-3, and center fielder Gus Turner-Zick went
2-for-4 to lead the Sixers, who left the bases loaded in the first and sixth
innings and stranded 11 runners in the loss.
Point was back Saturday night against third-ranked Beloit, which had
outscored its opponents 91-7 this season entering the Firecracker Classic.
The Sixers struck first, as Turner-Zick led off the bottom
of the first inning with a single and came around to score on a two-out RBI
single from first baseman Cole Wright to give the team a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the top of the fourth, when Beloit
scored a run on a RBI single and another on an error to take a 2-1 lead, and
then had a two-run single off Franz in the top of the fifth to go up 4-1.
The Sixers answered in the bottom of the fifth, as left
fielder Tyler Frafjord led off with a single and Turner-Zick hit a two-out,
two-run home run to pull the team within 4-3.
However, Beloit added a run in the top of sixth to make it
5-3 and held Point without a hit over the final two innings to close out a 5-3
win, as Turner-Zick went 2-for-3 with a home run, and Frafjord was 2-for-3 to
lead the offense.
“They were a great team; I thought we played extremely
well,” said Rieck. “We’re going to hopefully run into them again next weekend
at Fort Atkinson, but they’re a well-coached team, their infield was probably
one of the best infields I’ve seen play in a long time.
“We competed with them, and we can play with a good team
like that,” he said.
The Sixers looked to bounce back against Oshkosh Sunday
night, where Erickson had a two-run double in the bottom of the second inning
to give a the team a 2-0 lead, before Oshkosh scored two in the top of the
third off Frafjord to tie it at 2-2.
Right fielder Jacob Dufresne singled in the bottom of the
third and came around to score on a wild pitch to give Point a 3-2 lead, but Oshkosh
answered with three runs in the top of the fourth to go up 5-3, and then scored
another run in the top of the fifth on a two-out RBI single to increase its
lead to 6-3.
The Sixers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth
to pull within 6-5, and after Brock Caufield singled to lead off the bottom of
the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly from third baseman Jacob Piotrowski to
tie the score at 6-6, the team loaded the bases with two outs later in the
Point followed with a RBI single from left fielder Zach Ksicinski,
a walk from second baseman Joe Strigel and an RBI single from Turner-Zick to
score four runs and go up 10-6, while Wright closed out Oshkosh in the top of
the seventh to earn the win in relief after he didn’t allow an earned run and struck
out two over the final three innings.
Wright also went 2-for-3 with a double at the plate,
Erickson was 2-for-3 with a double, and Turner-Zick went 3-for-5 to lead a
14-hit attack for the Sixers.
“We got in some trouble early on and we were down by three,
and the kids really fought hard and they battled back,” said Rieck. “It shows a
lot about the team that they can be.”
Point opened the final day of the tournament Monday morning against
WVLL foe D.C. Everest, which lost to Beloit
7-2 Friday before it beat Wausau
3-0 Saturday and Beaver Dam 6-3 Sunday to remain in contention for the
Firecracker Title at 2-1.
Everest drew six walks in the top of the first inning to
score three runs without a hit and take a 3-0 lead, and then added three more
runs in the top of the third to go up 6-0.
With one out in the top of the fifth inning, Everest drew
four consecutive walks, each of which came around to score to give the team a
10-0 lead, while the Sixers were held without a hit until Franz had a pinch-hit
single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, and Everest won 10-0 in five
“When you have a pitcher that couldn’t get out of the first
inning, and part of that is on us as coaches, getting those guys ready to pitch
when they haven’t pitched as much in other games, but that was a tough one to
swallow,” said Rieck. “You’ve got to give credit to Everest though, because
they came back and they won the tournament.
“They went 4-1, so it’s not like we lost to a bad team,” he
said. “They did what they needed to do to win four really good games.”
Everest followed with a 9-8 win over Oshkosh in the next game Monday afternoon to finish
4-1 and win the Firecracker Title, which was the second in Post 492 history, as
it also won the tournament in 2006 as Rothschild-Schofield-Weston.
The Sixers closed the tournament Monday afternoon against Wausau (11-10, 3-1),
which used a walk and a pair of errors to score a run in the top of the first
inning off Point starter Legend Kieliszewski to take a 1-0 lead.
Wausau loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third
inning, where it used a hit batter, a two-run double and a RBI groundout to
rally for four runs and take a 5-0 lead, while Erickson had a RBI double in the
bottom of the third to pull Point within 5-1.
Wausau answered with four runs in the top of the fifth to
increase its lead to 9-1 and went on to a 9-4 win, as Turner-Zick was 3-for-4
with three runs scored, Erickson went 2-for-3 with a double, and shortstop Andy
Tepp and Frafjord each were 2-for-4 to lead the Sixers, who recorded 13 hits
and committed five errors in the loss.
“We had some running mistakes, a little lackadaisical out
there on the basepaths,” said Rieck. “Things that you’d think some of these
veteran players should know.
“But Legend coming in, pitching his first time at the Senior
level, he did a fine job,” he said. “He ran into a little trouble that one
inning, but he did a great job for us and really impressed us as a young
Behind Everest, Beloit and Beaver Dam each finished 3-2 over
the weekend, while Wausau and Oshkosh went 2-3, and Point was 1-4.
The Sixers were set to play at Wausau Wednesday, July 6, and then host
Everest at July 7,
as Point (4-1) looks to maintain its lead in the WVLL over Wausau (3-1), seventh-ranked Marshfield (5-2) and Plover (3-3).
“The best thing about athletics is, there’s always another
day,” said Rieck. “You have a home tournament like this, and you got everybody
in and you got everybody playing.
“Moving forward though, Regionals is in a couple of weeks,
and you’ve got to get everybody on the same page,” he said. “We’re out there
putting your best nine out there, take it one game at a time, and hopefully we
make the improvements that we need to have. And hopefully we start out with a
big win against Wausau