Plover holds off late rally to beat Point
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Plover Black Sox American Legion Baseball team used a big third-inning, and then held off a rally in the top of the seventh inning to beat the rival Stevens Point Sixers at Veterans Memorial Park in Plover Wednesday, July 3.
Plover (18-9) scored six runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 7-1 lead, while Point (9-6) brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the seventh inning, before the Black Sox closed out an 8-5 win to sweep the regular-season series.
“It’s always a big game,” said Plover shortstop Brett Ehr. “We play with those guys during SPASH, so we love them, but in between the lines, not so much.
“But it’s always a good game, and it’s always fun,” he said.
“We chipped away a little bit here and there, trying to get back into it, and I really liked the way they came back in that last inning,” said Stevens Point manager Pat Perner. “They didn’t give up, they could’ve hung their heads a little bit, but that’s what this team’s about.
“They don’t give up and they fight until the end, and a couple of timely hits here or there along the way could’ve made a big difference for us,” he said. “And those will come.”
Point and Plover squared off Wednesday night for the second time this season, after the Black Sox won 6-0 at Bukolt Park June 18, as Point’s JD Schultz and Plover’s Logan Schulfer both got the starts again on the mound after they went head-to-head in the first meeting.
The Black Sox struck first on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Derek Baumgartner in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead, while the Sixers loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the second inning and got a RBI single from left fielder Zach Zimmerman to tie the score at 1-1.
Plover used a catcher’s interference, a single from third baseman Kaden Roberts and a walk from Ehr to load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the third inning, when Baumgartner had a RBI single, first baseman Jack Kelly was hit by a pitch, and Schulfer had a RBI groundout to give the Black Sox a 4-1 lead.
Center fielder Cam Stampfl followed with a RBI single, left fielder Mason King scored on an error, and second baseman Mike Glodosky came through with a two-out RBI single to cap a six-run rally in the third inning that gave Plover a 7-1 lead.
“We had a lot of guys that were making hustle plays and having good at bats against a really good pitcher in JD,” said Kelly. “Any time you face him, you’ve got to have good at bats.”
“Coming in, with them throwing JD again, we know that it’s not going to be easy,” said Plover manager Wayne Sankey. “But I like the way in the third inning, we just hit the ball all over the park, and we were patient enough with him.”
Shortstop Justin Morton had a RBI single off Schulfer in the top of the fifth inning to pull Point within 7-2, while Kelly had a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning to increase Plover’s lead to 8-2 heading into the top of the seventh inning.
There, Point first baseman Isaac Perner had a sacrifice fly off Plover reliever Dylan Trigg to score Zimmerman and make it 8-3 with two outs, while Schultz had a RBI double and catcher Jacob Danielsen followed with a RBI single to bring the Sixers within 8-5.
“We talked about being more aggressive at the plate than what we’ve been in the past for some of the kids, and getting up to the plate and looking for that first strike and just putting the bat on the ball and making things happen,” said Pat Perner. “And hustling down the line and beating throws out, that’s a big thing that can make a big change in an inning, and it really did, it got us started in that inning.
“Zach did that with that ground ball to second, he beat it out, and he got a little spark going for us,” he said. “And that’s what we needed.”
Following a single and an error, Point had the bases-loaded with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate with Roberts on in relief, but Roberts got a strikeout to pick up the save and seal an 8-5 win for the Black Sox.
Baumgartner and Kelly each had two RBI, and Roberts scored two runs to lead the Plover offense, while Schulfer earned the win after he struck out two, walked five, and allowed two earned runs on four hits over five innings.
“Logan threw well, and they didn’t hit him very well,” said Sankey. “Our defense played well, and we were good.
“Obviously the end there didn’t necessarily go the way we wanted, to go through as many pitchers (four) as we did, but we’ve got that depth where we trust every guy that we put out there, and if we’ve got to go to another guy, we do,” he said. “And that was nice to see Kaden come in and take care of it.”
Schultz took the loss after he struck out four, walked one and allowed three earned runs on six hits over two and 2/3 innings, while Zimmerman was 2-for-3, Morton had two RBI, and Schultz added a double to lead Point, which finished with eight hits and committed four errors in the loss.
“The catcher’s interference (to start the third inning) got them going a little bit, and then a walk here and there, one hit here or there, and things just start to fester,” said Pat Perner. “But we talked about that, and we’ll clean those things up, and it’ll be much closer on our side the next time we face them.”
The two teams will meet again in the first game of the double-elimination AAA Region 2 Regional Tournament at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point, when they play each other at 5 p.m. Friday, July 19.
“The four errors that we had hurt us, and that kind of gave them that one big inning,” said Pat Perner. “Without that one big inning, we’re right there, and we’re probably walking away with a victory tonight.”
“Putting up six in the third, it was the determining factor in the game, but I would like to see us get even more off their bullpen than what we did,” said Sankey. “And that’s where you’ve got to kind of take charge and hopefully put a team away.
“But we’ll take the win,’ he said.