Comeback, then a show of power. Power from the left side, the right side, all sides. Regents improve to 6-1.
It was a cold and windy night at Mansfield Stadium. Definitely too early to wear shorts to a night game. You’d think that after 47 years as a Wisconsin resident one would get it. Not always. But anyhoo…..
The 5-1 Madison West Regents, 3-1 in the Big 8 Conference, squared off against the 4-1, 3-1, Verona Wildcats. This night was special. But it suuuuuure did not start out that way.
Here’s how things went down:
The Verona squad led off the first with some sound, and some fury. Leadoff hitter and second baseman Tyler McClure walked off Regents starting pitcher Aiden Burgess. He was followed by a single from the pesky Tucker Tesky, the Wildcats centerfielder with possibly the best name in all of Wisconsin HS baseball. Connor McGowan followed with a groundout to Regents 3B Charlie Met, but McClure scored. Wildcat firstbaseman Tristan Largent batted 4th and hit into a fielder’s choice, testing Met once again, but Charlie fired a strike to home, with West catcher Drake Baldwin tagging out Tesky for out #2. The catcher Jacob Slonim was up next, and delivered an RBI triple to left center to score Largent. RJ Woppert, their third baseman walked, as did DH Jeff Bishop who was hitting for starting pitcher Reagan Klawiter. Brad Laufenberg the Verona RF laced a single that scored both Slonim and Woppert, and left fielder Noah Anderson flew out deep to Austin Cotharn in LF to end the long first inning. Wildcats scored 4 on 3 hits.
The Regents half of the first started with leadoff man Austin Cotharn grounding out to second baseman who threw to first to complete the 4-3 play. He was followed by Met who walked. Drake Baldwin followed and also walked. Our DH, Sophomore Otto Treichel grounded out 4-3 as well, and first baseman Donovan O’Flahrity grounded out to the shortstop 6-3. 4-0 Wildcats.
The second inning for Verona featured an infield single by McClure who advanced to second on an errant pick-off attempt. Tesky grounded out 4-3 and advanced McClure to third. He was then hit in by McGowan who singled. Largent hit into a fielder’s choice, Nate Millmann SS to John Frehner at 2B to retire McGowan. Slonim then struck out to end the inning. 5-0 Wildcats.
Our second inning was quiet. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
The Verona half of the 3rd inning saw Burgess strike out Woppert, and then hit Jeff Bishop with a pitch. He is a fairly beefy guy, and I’m sure it didn’t hurt much. He barely grimaced. Laufenberg followed with a single, as did his buddy (I assume) Anderson. With Bishop on third, McClure singled to knock him in. Burgess then exited the game, and Colin Pulkrabek came on to pitch for the Regents. He got Tesky to pop out foul to Met, and McGowan to fly out to Eli Sorensen our centerfielder for the third out. 6-0 Wildcats.
The Regents half of the third was quiet. Too quiet. Kind of like one of those movies when you just KNOW something is about to happen. And it was. Oh boy was it.
In Verona’s fourth, Pulkrabek allowed a single to Largent, induced a pop up from Slonim to O’Flahrity at first, then struck out RJ Woppert….which then became the “strike ‘em out, throw em out” that you’ll hear from the dugout of many games. But this was a strikeout followed by a pickoff. Drake Baldwin saw Largent sneaking too far towards second after the strikeout and he deftly zipped a throw to O’Flahrity to retire a diving Largent.
In the bottom of the fourth, I could hear the sound of a distant phone ringing. It was the Regent’s offense wake up call, phoned in by Coach Ben Greiber. Klawiter, the starting pitcher was removed for another lefty reliever (they threw 4 leftys and one righty today). The Regents were now alert and ready. O’Flahrity started things off with a single, and was followed by Sorenson who took a base on balls, and then decided to take second as well with a stolen base. Why not? Jens Shager, our RF was next, and got a good look at a number of pitches, saving this mental picture for later use as he struck out. Then, sophomore John Frehner started a rally. He tripled to the left center gap, knocking in both O’Flahrity and Sorenson. The next hitter was a pinch. Owen Christenson batted in Nate Millmann’s spot, and walked. Cotharn then singled sharply and being the excellent baserunner that he is watched the throw come in from the outfield without hesitating and went to second base as two more scored. Charlie Met was next and struck out. Drake Baldwin was intentionally walked out of total fear of what he might do…(keep reading). Otto Treichel reached on an error, and O’Flahrity delivered with his second single of the inning, knocking in Cotharn and Baldwin. Eli Sorenson was up again for his second at bat of the inning and struck out. We’ve got a ballgame folks. 6-6 tie.
In the Verona half of the 5th inning, Pulkrabek struck out Bishop. Laufenberg was next, and he blistered a liner to shallow RF where savvy senior, Jens Shager was patrolling. He dove to his left and snagged the ball off the top of the freshly cut blades. 2 outs. Anderson then grounded to Dono at first to retire the side.
The Regents came to bat in the bottom of the 5th with a new ballgame in their hands. They were not throwing away their shot. They were young, scrappy, and hungry, and they were not throwing away their shot. Shager, just recovered from his diving grab, went oppo and deeeeeeeeep. He drove a ball to the base of the right field fence in a power display rarely seen in high school ball, ending up at second with a stand-up double. John Frehner was then hit by a pitch during a bunt attempt, and went to first slightly more sore than a moment ago. Nate Millmann then bunted but this was fielded by the pitcher who retired Jens at third for the first out. Austin Cotharn then drilled a double over the head of the centerfielder Laufenberg which scored Frehner. Charlie Met followed with a chip on his shoulder. He then hit this chip deeeeeep to the base of the left field fence, scoring Millmann and Cotharn. Drake Baldwin followed with a single liner to RF, and Otto walked. Verona then changed pitchers again, to Gaelan Combs. (no relation to Sean Puffy Combs, P-Diddy, or Puff-Daddy). O’Flahrity greeted Combs with a walk that scored Met, crediting O’Flahrity with a RBI. You don’t always have to bat someone in to get a run batted in. Remember that. Sorenson struck out, and Shager walked during his second AB of the inning. He got an RBI when Baldwin scored because of his walk. (Foreshadowing? No, retroshadowing). Finally, the inning came to an end on a fielder’s choice by Frehner. Regents now up 11-6!
The top of the 6th saw Verona start with a walk by McClure, who scored on a triple by the pesky Tesky who entirely lived up to the nickname I just gave him during this blog. He scored on a groundout to Millmann at short by McGowan. Largent then flew out to left, and Slonim grounded to Frehner at second to retire the side. 11-8 Regents.
The bottom of the 6th was an inning like I have not seen in my 4 year tenure as a Regent parent. All runs were scored with 2 outs, after Nate Millmann reached on a D3K (dropped third strike) that the catcher Slonim air-mailed over the first baseman’s head. Cotharn then lined into a double play that nailed a diving Millmann as he tried to retreat back to first. Charlie Met then popped up to shallow right, but the wind wreaked havoc on the right fielder for Verona, as he overran the ball which landed softly behind him for a single, which kept the inning going. Drake Baldwin was next, and ready to show why he was previously walked intentionally. He hit a 2 run homer over the right center field wall that ignited the capacity(?) crowd. This was his first of what is likely to be many varsity dingers for this Sophomore phenom. Otto Treichel followed with a single, matched by Donovan O’Flahrity with one just like it. Junior Eli Sorenson came up, with 2 teammates on base, fresh off a West Coast tour of schools at which he may matriculate. Eli got his pitch. He drilled a 3 run HR on to the batting cages in right field for his first varsity bomb, with more to come no doubt. When the crowd and his teammates finally came to their senses, Jens Shager was at the plate and reached on an error. Sophomore Frehner then walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Nate Millmann strolled to the plate with the confidence of a lifetime .330 hitter in the bigs. I thought to myself that this was the absolute best batter for this situation considering the odds. Nate is a great hitter, and in terms of how things have gone thus far this year, odds were in his favor. I knew that, and I think Nate knew that. He hammered a single to the left center gap that scored two runs. Game Over. 10 Run rule. Regents win 18-8 . Regents win!
Next game is an away game tomorrow, Tuesday April 18 at 5 PM at Warner Park vs Madison East. Really, do you think you can miss this and feel OK with yourself? That is what I thought. See you there.