Black Sox sweep regional, advance to state tournament
By Jacob Heid
PLOVER – After a long regular season, the pressure amped up for the Plover Black Sox in the playoffs.
Memorial Field in Plover was the host site for a AAA Legion regional, allowing the Black Sox to play in front of a home crowd.
Plover swept through four games, winning the regional championship game on Jul. 22 to advance to state.
They beat Marshfield 5-3 to open things up on Jul. 19.
The next matchup vs. Wausau ended in a 4-1 victory on Jul. 20, putting the Sox at 2-0 as they headed into the weekend.
Plover then faced D.C. Everest on Jul. 21, beating them 5-1, and putting Wisconsin Rapids on the radar.
In another defensive gem, the Sox beat the Rangers on Jul. 22 to advance to the triple-A state tournament in Marinette from Tuesday, Jul. 25 through Saturday, Jul. 29.
Here’s more on the final two games of the regional tournament.
Plover 5, D.C. Everest 1
The game opened with early base runners for both teams, but nothing came of the traffic in the first inning.
D.C. Everest loaded the bases again in the second, putting Plover in another tight situation.
The Black Sox got out of the jam by giving up just one run.
A 1-0 Everest lead moved into the fifth as Plover couldn’t take advantage of their traffic.
Jackson Fox and Braylen Nystrom got consecutive hits, while Chase Geyer walked to load the bases with no outs in the fifth.
Bryce Ehr smacked a base hit to center that scored one to tie the game at 1-1.
Plover’s offense wasn’t finished as a sac-fly put the host team ahead, 2-1, heading to the sixth inning.
Nystrom kept dealing on the mound, pitching a scoreless sixth inning to hold the lead.
He also helped with a three-run bottom half of the sixth with a two-run homer, making it a 5-1 game.
That added to his three-hit night offensively.
Nystrom went a full six innings on the mound in the win.
The win put the Sox in a nice situation heading into Saturday at 3-0.
Plover 6, Wisconsin Rapids 1
As championship Saturday arrived, the Plover Black Sox were still without a loss.
That meant the Rangers needed two wins vs. the Sox to advance to the state tournament.
Plover took an early lead and never looked back.
Geyer gave a good hack at one in the first and sent the ball over the fence for an early 2-0 advantage.
Ehr got the nod on the mound, continuing Plover’s spectacular pitching in the tournament.
The defenses traded scoreless innings through the fifth inning, with the score remaining 2-0.
Ehr opened the top of the sixth by getting hit by a pitch. Later, with two outs, Plover loaded the bases.
Two runs scored on an error by Rapids’ third baseman, making it a 4-0 game.
Plover added two more in the seventh to have a six-run cushion.
The Rangers got a run in the seventh, ending Ehr’s day after a solid six and two-thirds innings.
That was the second consecutive game where a Plover starter went six or more innings.
Plover opens the state tournament on Tuesday, Jul. 25, at 5 p.m. vs. Kaukauna in Marinette.