Plover bounces back after 1-1 start at Regional
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Plover Black Sox overcame a 1-1 start to win the AAA Region 2 Regional Tournament at Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids Saturday through Tuesday, July 21 to 24.
The Black Sox opened with a 17-1 win over D.C. Everest in five innings Saturday. First baseman Jack Kelly had a RBI double and right fielder Tristan Aldrich followed with a RBI single in the top of the first inning to give Plover a 2-0 lead, while third baseman Kaden Roberts and catcher Derek Baumgartner each had a RBI single in the top of the second inning to make it 4-0 with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Aldrich followed with a three-run double to center field to push the lead to 7-0, and designated hitter Austin Beyer added a two-run double, second baseman Michael Glodosky had a RBI groundout, Baumgartner had a RBI single, and Kelly added a RBI double to cap the scoring on a 10-run inning that gave Plover a 12-0 advantage.
“Early leads are big,” said Aldrich. “Big for momentum and confidence, and the pitchers can go out there and just throw strikes.”
The Black Sox went on to a 17-1 win, as Cam Stampfl walked one and didn’t allow a hit in two shutout innings to start, while Roberts picked up the win in relief after he struck out two, walked one, and allowed one earned run on three hits over the final three innings.
Plover finished with 18 hits in the win, as Kelly was 3-for-3 with two doubles, three runs scored, two walks and four RBI; Aldrich went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI; Ehr was 3-for-3 with two walks and five RBI; Beyer went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI; Baumgartner was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI; Barrett Brooks had two RBI; and Roberts scored two runs.
“It’s always good to get a first win, and get the momentum building and the confidence,” said Aldrich. “And we saved a lot of pitching.”
“The last time we played them, they beat us 6-3 with that same pitcher (Trevor Samuelson) on the hill,” said Plover manager Wayne Sankey. “He was obviously a little bit different pitcher than he was the last time we got him.
“And give our kids credit, coming out there and getting two runs early, and then putting up a zero in that bottom of the frame,” he said. “And then coming back with a big second inning was the difference.”
The Black Sox lost 6-0 to Wisconsin Rapids Sunday, July 22. The game was tied 0-0 in the bottom of the third inning, when Rapids used a two-run double off Logan Schulfer with two outs to score a pair of unearned runs and take a 2-0 lead. Rapids scored one run in the bottom of the fourth on an error and another on a RBI double to go up 4-0, then scored on a wild pitch from Dylan Trigg in the fifth to make it 5-0, and added a RBI single in the sixth to close the scoring on a 6-0 win.
Schulfer took the loss after he allowed three earned runs on five hits, struck out none and walked two in three innings. Plover stranded 12 runners on base in the loss, as Kelly was 3-for-3 to account for three of the team’s four hits.
“We left so many guys on base,” said Sankey. “We didn’t get the leadoff guy on and we didn’t get the big two-out hit either, and we can’t score many runs when that happens.”
Plover followed with a 7-1 win over Stevens Point Monday, July 23. The Black Sox broke a 0-0 tie in the top of the second inning, as center fielder Mason King had a RBI double and Beyer had a two-out RBI single to give the team a 2-0 lead.
“Mason’s been hitting the ball so well for us recently, and he just roped that one in the gap,” said Sankey. “And then Beyer with the big hit to drive Mason in with two outs was big for our guys.”
Plover added one run in the third and two more runs in the fourth to build a 5-0 lead, and after Point scored one run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-1, Kelly and Schulfer each had a RBI single in the top of the sixth to close the scoring on the win.
Roberts was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, King went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI, Kelly was 2-for-4 with two RBI, and Baumgartner and Schulfer both went 2-for-3.
Brett Ehr struck out three and walked none, as he allowed one earned run on six hits in a complete-game victory.
“It’s always a good game against them; it’s always exciting and a lot of fun,” said Ehr. “And our guys just came through.
“We hit a lot better than we did yesterday, so that really helped us,” he said.
“We obviously don’t want to be the team that’s going home here, we want to end teams’ seasons,” said Sankey. “But to beat your rival in a win-or-go-home, and to win the series for the season, obviously that’s nice for our guys.”
The win over Point sent the Black Sox to the final day of the tournament Tuesday, where they won 13-2 over Wausau and 12-3 over Wisconsin Rapids to punch their ticket to the State Tournament.
“I’m super proud of them,” said Plover assistant coach Corey Opper. “I don’t think people realize we were probably the youngest team in the conference, because they can all come back next year.
“But they all understood that they have their leaders, they have their roles, and they really bought in,” he said. “For young kids, usually they all want to be the stars, and these guys don’t really look at it that way. They didn’t care if the kid was 15 or 16 or 17 or 18, they bought into every one of them and took them under their wing, and tried to make baseball fun and have a good time with it.
“And I think that’s what keeps them together and keeps them driving and keeps them wanting to play more and more as this summer goes along,” he said. “So that’s what makes them fun, you never know what’s going to come out of their mouths, you never know what they’re going to do, and they usually don’t get too down on themselves. So it’s fun, and they’re an entertaining group.”