Plover wins Wisconsin Valley Legion League Title
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Plover Black Sox American Legion Baseball team captured its first Wisconsin Valley Legion League (WVLL) Title since 2015, as it claimed the Conference Championship outright with a win over Wausau at Veterans Memorial Park in Plover in the regular-season finale Monday, July 15.
The Black Sox (27-11) struck with nine runs in the top of the third inning to jump out to a 10-0 lead, and went on to a 10-1 victory to win the WVLL Title outright with a 13-1 record.
“For our guys on this team, they have never done that before, to win that, so that’s nice,” said Plover manager Wayne Sankey. “And any time we can put numbers up on our board, that’s what we like to do.
“So I think for the kids, it means a lot more that they can least say that they got one of them,” he said.
Plover looked to clinch at least a share of the WVLL Title, as it carried an 11-1 record into its showdown with Wisconsin Rapids (10-2) at Witter Field Wednesday, July 10.
The Black Sox used RBI singles from Derek Baumgartner and Cam Stampfl, and two-run double from Austin Beyer in the top of the first inning to get out to a 4-0 lead.
Stampfl added a RBI double in the top of the third inning and came around to score on an error to increase the lead to 6-0, while later in the inning Kaden Roberts had a two-run single and Baumgartner had a sacrifice fly to score Mike Glodosky and push the advantage to 9-0.
Plover went on to a 12-0 victory in five innings, as Brett Ehr struck out three and walked two to earn the win in a four-hit shutout. Stampfl went 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and two RBI; Roberts was 3-for-3 with two RBI; Beyer went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI; Baumgartner had two RBI; Logan Schulfer scored two runs; and Ehr and Jack Kelly each added a double to lead a 12-hit attack for the Black Sox.
“It means a lot to win that Conference Title,” said Ehr. “But we still haven’t clinched it just to ourselves, so we’ve got to go and get that game (Monday), and then move on from Conference and go on to whatever’s next.”
Plover looked to wrap up the Conference Title outright Monday night, as the game was moved earlier in the day from Wausau to Veterans Memorial Park.
Stampfl drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the first inning to give the Black Sox a 1-0 lead, which it stayed until the top of the third inning, when the Black Sox drew three consecutive walks to load the bases, and Stampfl followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0.
Mason King had a RBI double and Stampfl scored on a passed ball later in the inning to increase the lead to 5-0, while Ehr drew a bases-loaded walk, Baumgartner had a two-run double, and Schulfer had a sacrifice fly to score Ehr and cap a nine-run inning that pushed the lead to 10-0.
Plover went on to win 10-1, as Kenny Schultz didn’t allow an earned run on two hits, struck out five and walked one over four innings for the win, and Ehr struck out two and didn’t allow a hit over the final three innings to close out the victory.
King went 2-for-4 with a double, Stampfl finished with thee RBI, Baumgartner had a double and two RBI, Ehr scored three runs, and Sterling Lutz added a double, as the Black Sox totaled eight hits and drew 12 walks to claim their first Conference Title since they won eight in a row from 2008 through 2015.
“None of us have ever won a Conference for this,” said Baumgartner. “So it’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Plover finished 13-1 to win the WVLL Title over Wisconsin Rapids (12-2) and Antigo (9-4), while the Black Sox will compete in the AAA Region 2 Tournament this weekend in Stevens Point against conference foes Rapids, Stevens Point (7-7), Marshfield (5-9), Wausau (5-9), D.C. Everest (3-11) and Merrill (1-12), with a trip to the State Tournament on the line.
“It’s not going to be easy,” said Sankey. “We’ve got seven teams in it, and it’s the biggest Regional in the state for AAA.
“For us, it’s the old cliché, ‘take it one game at a time,’ and we’re trying to match up our pitchers with the teams that we feel that they’re going to be successful against,” he said. “And if we continue to play the way we’ve been playing, then I’m pretty confident in us moving on.”