McCann homer carries Milton past Craig
McCann, who already was battling a painful slump at the plate, was certain he didn’t have it in him to blast a home run over the ivy-covered fence.
Fortunately for Milton, McCann’s swing is better than his depth perception.
McCann’s solo homer in the top of the ninth gave Milton a grueling 5-4, extra-innings victory over Janesville Craig (16-10) in a WIAA Division 1 regional baseball final here Friday.
With the marathon victory, Milton (13-11) punched its ticket to the Janesville Craig. The Red Hawks face Oconomowoc in a semifinal game at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’ve been telling ourselves all year long that we can play with anybody,” Milton coach Steve Heilman said. “Our kids don’t fear anybody and just come to play. And whatever happens, happens.”
Meanwhile, Craig coach Vic Herbst couldn’t help but dwell on his team’s missed opportunities.
“We had numerous times with runners in scoring position where we didn’t get a hit,” said Herbst, whose team left 14 runners on base. “We get one or two hits in there, and we win the game, and it doesn’t go extra innings.”
Indeed, one hit determined the game.
After Cougar reliever Mike Davis retired the first two hitters in the top of the ninth, McCann turned on a fastball and drilled his homer over the left-field foul pole to put the Red Hawks on top, 5-4.
“I didn’t think any balls could really get out of this ballpark, but then it finally happened,” said McCann, who drove in three runs in the game. “I was in a slump, and I don’t know why, I just got it going.”
Craig came within a few feet of denying McCann a chance to win it in the ninth.
With Cougar shortstop Jameson Henning on second in the eighth, Tom Yaucher drilled a single to center. Herbst immediately waved around Henning from third, but Red Hawk center fielder Jon Haas threw a dart to catcher Josh Meyers to gun down Henning at the plate.
“In that situation, it takes a good a throw and good catch, and they did it,” Herbst said. “If the throw was off the mark, we win. In situations like that, you have to go for it.”
Cougar starting pitcher Cody Steed certainly wasn’t in good position in the top of the first. After the first three Red Hawk hitters reached safely, McCann poked a two-run single to center to put his team up 2-0.
After Brian Lucas’ RBI walk in the third made it 3-0, Yaucher cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the inning with a sacrifice fly.
Craig finally drew even at 3-3 in the sixth on a Mitch Perkins RBI single and a Henning RBI double.
After Milton reclaimed a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh, Craig forced extra innings on a Davis RBI infield single.
The game remained knotted at 4-4 until McCann broke the tie in the ninth.
“Give credit to Milton. They played a great game,” Herbst said.
MILTON 5, CRAIG 4 (9)
Milton (ab-r-h-rbi)—N. Meyers, 4-2-2-0; J. Meyers, 4-1-1-0; Burman, 3-0-1-0; McCann, 4-1-2-3; Ernst, 2-0-0-0; Haas, 4-0-0-0; Lucas, 2-0-0-1; Brayshaw, 3-0-0-0; Cassidy, 4-0-0-0. Totals: 30-5-5-4.
Craig (ab-r-h-rbi)—Henning, 5-0-4-1; Geller, 3-1-1-0; DeCremer, 3-0-1-0; Yaucher, 5-0-2-1; Phillips, 4-0-0-0; Davis, 4-1-2-1; Hoskins, 3-0-0-0; Meyer, 4-0-0-0; Perkins, 4-1-1-1; Splan, 0-1-0-0. Totals: 35-4-11-4.
Milton 201 000 101-5
Janesville Craig 001 002 100-4
E-Craig 4. LOB- Milton 6, Craig 14. HR-McCann. 2B – Perkins. SB – Yaucher, Henning 2.
IP H R ER BB SO
Ernst 4 3 1 1 2 2
Brayshaw 1 2/3 3 2 2 1 1
McCann 2/3 2 1 1 1 1
Burman (W) 2 2/3 2 0 0 2 2
Steed 7 6 4 2 6 9
Davis (L) 2 1 1 1 1 0