The 15-8 Madison West Regents sat through their first round bye on Tuesday in the WIAA Regional Final of the Section #5 Division 1 High School Baseball Playoffs. They would meet the winner of a game between Milton and Elkhorn, which turned out to be Elkhorn. Elkhorn loaded up the truck, and moved to Mansfield, Stadium that is, for a 5 PM matchup on Thursday June 1, 2017. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and for once there were no gale force winds. The stage was set.
Toeing the rubber for the Regents was none other than senior Gabe Hill, and his battery mate was Sophomore Drake Baldwin. The Elkhorn squad sent Ben McConnell to the bump, throwing to Riley Remington behind the dish.
Leading off the top of the first, Elkhorn center fielder Ian Nowell singled to break up the no-hitter. Their shortstop Jet Weber popped to Austin Cotharn at short for the first out. Third baseman Lucas Harding followed with a single, and left fielder Nick Rockweiler doubled down the right field line to score both runners. DH Dakota Biefield grounded out to John Frehner at second base, and then first baseman Ross Ingersoll popped out to David Grunder at third to end the half inning. 2-0 Moose, with the Regents coming to the plate. Only kidding, Elkhorn is the Elks. But wouldn’t it be funny if they were the Moose? Maybe just to me. Anyway…..
The Regents roared in the bottom of the first. Drake led off with a groundout to first. Right fielder Tommy Hill followed with a line-drive single between the shortstop and third baseman. DH Otto Treichel came up and singled to right. Left fielder Donovan O’Flahrity singled to score Tommy. Austin Cotharn then singled to center to score both Otto and Dono who had moved up an extra base on a passed ball during the at-bat. Centerfielder Eli Sorensen then doubled with another hard-hit line drive to the right-centerfield gap to score Austin. During the at bat by John Frehner, Eli stole third, planning ahead for Frehner’s upcoming sacrifice fly to knock him in. First baseman Charlie Met then flew out to center to end the half inning. Regents 5, Elks 2.
In the top of 2, the Elks saw a single by Gosh, Kyle that is. It was a slow roller and Charlie Met stretched as far as he could to get the throw in time…., but his foot left the base….and his hamstring nearly left his body…and Charlie had to leave the game. O’Flahrity moved to first base, and Max Hanson came in to play left field. The Elks went down uneventfully.
Bottom of 2, third baseman David Grunder reached on a dropped third strike wild pitch, and advanced to second on a passed ball. Drake popped to short for the first out. Tommy singled with a laser liner past a leaping Harding at third and the ball nearly took off his glove for a yard sale. (Its a skiing and baseball term for when your equipment gets knocked off and scattered around you as if someone was having a yard sale.) Tommy then stole second. Otto followed with a line drive single to score Grunder, and this was the end for Elks pitcher McConnell. In trotted Ingersoll from first base, and Jordan VanDyke took his place at first. Ingersoll is a tall glass of water. In fact, he was a pitcher. Literally AND figuratively. Donovan O’Flahrity greeted him with a line drive sacrifice fly to right to score Tommy. That would be all the Regents would get tonight, as Ross Ingersoll was a force to be reckoned with. He gave up no Regent runs. Of course we ran ourselves out of a few as well……stay tuned. 7-2 Regents!
In the top of the third, Harding singled, and Rockweiler hit a ground ball to Frehner that he threw to Cotharn at short and the runner slid into Austin enough to garner an automatic double play for runner interference. I think Mr Umpire was generous on that one. But as I have said numerous times, Mr Umpire’s calls are what count. We’ve been on the short end of a number of those, so it’s about time one goes our way. Biefield then singled, but Ingersoll grounded out 4-3 to end the inning. Still 7-2 Regents.
In our half of the third, Eli took a walk, and John Frehner hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Eli at second. Max Hanson flew out to right field with a well-struck ball. David Grunder was a strikout victim to end the inning. 7-2 Regents.
In the fourth, Elkhorn got two back. Chance Larson, their right fielder, singled. Gosh popped out to Drake, and Remington flew out to Eli in center. This brought up the top of the order. Nowell then doubled over a drawn-in outfield to knock in Larson. Weber followed with the exact same thing. 2 runs by the Elks. Harding popped to short for the third out. 7-4 Regents.
The bottom of the fourth for the West 9 had Drake leading off. He singled. This brought up Tommy Hill. Drake got caught leaning a bit too far off first, and got in a pickle-ickle-ickle. On a play that went 1-3-6-3 he was picked off. Bummer. Tommy then grounded out unassisted to first baseman VanDyke. Otto then singled again for his third hit of the game. Dono struck out. 7-4 Reggie.
In the top of the 5th, Gabe Hill was still going, like a tall energizer bunny. Rockweiler singled off the glove of a hustling and sliding Cotharn. Beifield struck out. Ingersoll reached on an error. Larson doubled to score Rockweiler. Gosh went down on strikes on an absolutely dirty curve by Gabe. Remington reached on an error that allowed Ingersoll to score. Nowell then hit a single to score Larson. Oh man! Its a tie ball game. Weber popped to first to stop the bleeding. 7-7. Momentum shift in favor of the Elks.
West came to bat in the bottom of the 5th a little miffed. Austin grounded out sharply to second. Eli singled. However, he also got caught leaning a bit too far off first base, and was caught in another rundown. This one went 1-3-6-1 or something like that. 2 outs. John Frehner then grounded out to short on a Sunday hop (that is a phrase for a well-hit ball that took an easy hop into the fielders glove). Still tied.
The 6th for the Elks saw them facing relief pitcher Austin Cotharn. Colin Pulkrabek was now in left field. First batter was Harding who flew out to Frehner. Rockweiler reached on an error. Biefield flew out to center. 2 outs. Ingersoll doubled, allowing Rockweiler to score their go-ahead run. However, he then took a page from our book and strolled leisurely off second base after a pitch. Drake saw this. He waited for him to do it again and when he did, he did not hesitate to pick him off to end the inning. 8-7 Elks.
In the bottom of the 6th, Jens Shager came on to pinch hit and grounded out 4-3. Donavan Parker then pinch-hit for Grunder and flew out to right. Drake then flew out to short to end the 6th. Still 8-7 Elks.
The top of the 7th saw Cotharn still on the mound for the Regents. Larson lined out to center. Gosh singled. Remington bunted to move him over and was safe on the bunt single. Eli Sorensen then traded places with Austin and came into pitch. He got Nowell to line out to Cotharn, and Weber singled to load the bases. As the outfield was again playing shallow, I shuddered. Thankfully Eli got their 3 hitter Harding to strike out swinging.
It was now up to us. Bottom of 7, down one run. Tommy Hill drew a base on balls. Otto then flew out to center. Donovan O’Flahrity was next, and during his at-bat, Tommy advanced to second on a passed ball. Dono then grounded to third, and their thirdbaseman played the ball to his left, looked Tommy back to second and threw to first to retire Dono. 2 outs. Austin was hit by a pitch that was a glancing blow off his shoulder. Eli then flew out to deep short to end the game.
I know I speak for a great number of Regent fans when I say this: I am very proud of the effort these Regents put in this year. They surpassed my expectations by a long, long, shot. The other teams in the Big 8 should and will take notice. The Regents will be strong in the next few years. Bring it boys. Good luck to the current Juniors, Sophs, and Freshmen. You’ve got big shoes to fill, but fill them you will.
The 7 seniors this year are: Gabe Hill, Tommy Hill, Austin Cotharn, Donavan Parker, Jens Shager, Nate Millman, and Sam Mohoney. Without hesitation, I can say that these young men are great people. Some are moving on to play some more, and all are moving on to further their greatness in the game of life. Parents, you have done very, very well to raise such fine young men, and you should be proud of yourselves in addition to your children.
This is not the end, it is the turning of a page. Oh sure, these 7 young men are no longer Regent Baseball players but they are moving on to bigger, and although it may be hard to believe, better things. And they are going to rock those things like they’ve never been rocked before. Believe that.