Point, Plover head to Rapids for Regionals next week
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Sixers and Plover Black Sox American Legion Baseball teams will play for a trip to state when they compete in the AAA Region 2 Regional Tournament at Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids Friday through Monday, July 20-23.
Plover will face D.C. Everest in the tournament opener at 1 p.m. Friday, while Point will take on Rapids at 7 p.m. Friday.
The winner of the six-team, double-elimination tournament will advance to the AAA State Tournament in Marinette July 27-31.
“We want to play every game hard, play like it’s our last, and hope for the best,” said Point manager Caleb Bembenek. “And hopefully we can make it to state.”
“It’s going to be tough,” said Plover manager Wayne Sankey. “If I look at the teams that are in the Regional, Point we’ve split with, Rapids we’ve swept, Everest we’ve split with, Wausau we split with, and Marshfield we beat once.
“So it’s a flip of a coin,” he said. “And I’d be willing to bet if you went and looked at Wausau against Point, and Rapids against Marshfield, or whatever, it’s the same thing.”
Last season, Plover went 1-2 at the Regional and was eliminated with a 5-2 loss to eventual Champion Wausau, while Point was the last unbeaten team in the tournament after it went 3-0 to advance to the Championship, where it lost to Wausau 7-6 in 10 innings and 13-5 in the second Championship Game to send Wausau to state.
The Black Sox (7-5 in WVLL) will open this year’s Regional against Everest (2-10 in WVLL) after the teams split a pair of regular-season meetings, as Plover won 14-4 at home June 13, and Everest won 6-3 at home July 5.
“They have two college pitchers that are darn good,” said Sankey. “They’ve got a lefty (Trevor Samuelson) that is very, very good, and they’ve also got a righty (John Breske) that is going to Winona State.
“Even though they’re 2-10 in the conference, if they get their seniors to show up, and I’m guessing when it gets to playoff time those guys will get there, it’s not an easy draw by any means,” he said.
Point (5-6 in WVLL) will open Friday night against Rapids (8-4 in WVLL), which won at home over the Sixers 12-3 June 21 in the two teams’ only meeting so far this season.
“There are six teams, Everest started off a little shaky, but they put together a really good team here, so they can compete with anybody,” said Bembenek. “Everybody’s been going back and forth, and it’s kind of how it matches up and what teams show up for every game.”
The other first-round matchup has Wausau (8-5 in WVLL) taking on current conference leader Marshfield (8-3 in WVLL) at 4 p.m. Friday.
The winner of the Plover/Everest game will play the loser of the Point/Rapids game at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 21, while the loser will take on either Wausau or Marshfield in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The winner of the Point/Rapids game will move on to face the winner of Wausau and Marshfield at 7 p.m. Saturday, while the double-elimination tournament is scheduled to run through the Championship Monday, July 23.
“We need to keep hitting like we are,” said Bembenek, whose team will look earn a trip to state for the first time since 2003. “And our pitchers need to keep throwing strikes, and let our defense work.
“But I’m looking forward to a really good Regional,” he said. “It should be some really good ballgames.”
“We’ve got to get off to a good start,” said Sankey, who has guided Plover to State Titles in 2007 and 2014 and seven State Tournament appearances since 2003. “The last two games we’ve been down a combined 6-0 in the first inning, so we’ve got to find a way to not do that.
“There’s going to be some great games, and it’s going to be tough,” he said. “And the team that comes out of there is definitely going to be battle tested and ready for the State Tournament.”
2018 AAA Region 2 Regional Tournament at Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids
Friday, July 20
Game 1: D.C. Everest vs. Plover, 1 p.m.
Game 2: Wausau vs. Marshfield, 4 p.m.
Game 3: Stevens Point vs. Wisconsin Rapids, 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 21
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 1 p.m.
Game 5*: Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 4 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 22
Game 7: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 6, 1 p.m.
Game 8: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m. (Winner Game 8 gets bye)
Game 9: Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8, 7 p.m.
Monday, July 23
Game 10: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9, 4 p.m.
Game 11 (if Loser Game 10 suffered its first loss): Winner Game 10 vs. Loser Game 10, 7 p.m.
*If Loser Game 3 wins Game 5, schedule below will be used
Sunday, July 22
Game 7: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 1 p.m.
Game 8: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 5, 4 p.m.
Game 9: Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 7, 7 p.m.
Monday, July 23
Game 10: TBA (The team with the 3-1 record has the bye into Championship Game), 4 p.m.
Game 11: Repeat Game 11 if necessary, 7 p.m.