Fort’s dreams doused
That wasn’t the case for Fort Atkinson High School’s baseball team in the WIAA state tournament here Tuesday night.
After waiting out more than three hours of rain delays throughout the day, the Blackhawks saw their magical postseason run end in a Division 1 quarterfinal game against Madison
La Follette. The Lancers defeated the Blackhawks, 12-0, in a 7:15 p.m. game played in a steady drizzle at Fox Cities Stadium.
The loss ended the Blackhawks’ remarkable 8-22 season, during which they started 1-20 before winning seven of eight going into the state tournament.
Fort Atkinson coach Mark Rowley hopes the late-season charge, minus the last game, leaves a lasting impression on his players.
“I hope they learned that no matter what the circumstances are—obviously we had our challenges this year—that we were able to get into a little bit of a roll the last week. There is some dynamics there.
“I hope we get some confidence that we can play with anybody now,” Rowley said. “I hope we can take this momentum and springboard it into next year.”
La Follette (18-9), which split with both Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker during the Big Eight Conference season, took control of the Blackhawks with a three-run third to stretch the lead to 4-0.
The inning would’ve been worse for the Blackhawks if Fort Atkinson left fielder Eric Burow hadn’t made a great catch to rob the Lancers’ Tony Grannis of an extra-base hit. Burow stretched out to grab Grannis’ liner down the left-field line.
But the Blackhawks could not make enough plays to stay with the Lancers, whose Tuesday night semifinal game against Waterford was rescheduled for noon today at UW-Oshkosh.
La Follette scored at least one run in every inning except the second.
Fort Atkinson starting pitcher Mike Knutson, who had sparked the Blackhawks’ late-season revival, along with fellow starter Burow, could not contain the Lancers. La Follette scored eight runs, six earned, on Knutson in five innings.
La Follette starter Tyler Flood shut out the Blackhawks on two hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out four.
The biggest Fort Atkinson threat came in the first inning when leadoff hitter Sam Hartwick singled, advanced on a sacrifice by James Bleecker and went to third on a wild pitch.
However, Hartwick took a few steps toward home on Knutson’s bouncer to third and was tagged out at third on a return throw from La Follette catcher Griffin LeFeber. Knutson was thrown at second trying to advance on the throw to third.
That was all Flood needed.
“He found himself after that first inning,” Rowley said. “We put a little bit of stress on him in the first inning, but he came right back dealing in the second. When we had good contact, it was right at them.”
Bleecker had the only other Fort Atkinson hit—a bunt single in the fourth inning.
Zach Koch and Chris Kutz drew walks off Flood, but the Blackhawks had just 23 batters appear at the plate—two over the minimum due to two La Follette double plays.
La Follette’s Taylor Carlson was the hitting star, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. John Thalacker also was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Rowley knew the Lancers were capable of their 14-hit attack after talking to some Big Eight coaches.
“The one strength they indicated to me was that they would be swinging,” Rowley said. “They’re free swingers.
For the first time in the past few weeks, Fort Atkinson could not keep up with that.
“Our kids came to play. We did some things we thought we could do, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us tonight,” Rowley said.
So, no, all good things don’t always come to those who wait. Sometimes, good things come to an end.
LA FOLLETTE 12, FORT ATKINSON 0
La Follette (ab-r-h-rbi)—Dybevik, ss, 2-2-2-1; Harrington, pr, 0-1-0-0; Grannis, 2b, 4-0-1-1; Stewart, pr, 0-1-0-0; Carlson, 3b, 4-1-3-3; Flood, p-1b, 4-1-2-1; Falch, pr, 0-0-0-0; Lefeber, c, 4-0-1-1; Padgett, pr, 0-1-0-0; Ricci, 1b-rf, 4-1-2-2; Anderson, cf, 3-0-0-0; Littel, 1-0-0-1; Thalacker, lf, 4-2-3-0; Huemmer, pr, 0-1-0-0; Brockel, rf, 3-1-0-0; Mohr, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 32-12-14-10.
Fort Atkinson (ab-r-h-rbi)—Hartwick, ss-2b, 2-0-1-0; Free, ph, 1-0-0-0; Bleecker, c, 1-0-1-0; Young, ph-c, 1-0-0-0; Knutson, p-ss, 3-0-0-0; Waller, p, 0-0-0-0; Boos, 1b, 2-0-0-0; Preston, 1b, 1-0-0-0; Rowley, rf, 3-0-0-0; Falk, cf, 2-0-0-0; Cashin, 2b-3b, 2-0-0-0; Burow, lf, 1-0-0-0; Sanders, ph-lf, 1-0-0-0; Koch, 3b, 0-0-0-0; Kutz, ph, 0-0-0-0; Jorsted, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 20-0-2-0.
Madison La Follette 103 112 4—12
Fort Atkinson 000 000 0—0
E—La Follette 0, Fort Atkinson 1. DP—La Follette 2. LOB—La Follette 7, Fort Atkinson 2. 2B—Dybevik, Carlson, Ricci. 3B—Flood, Ricci, Thalacker. SB—Dybevik 2, Carlson. SAC—Brockel, Bleecker. SF—Grannis, Flood.
IP H R ER BB SO
Flood (W) 6 2 0 0 2 4
Mohr 1 0 0 0 0 1
Knutson (L) 5 8 8 6 4 2
Waller 1 1 0 0 0 1
Jorsted 1 5 4 4 0 1
-- Waunakee 3, Kimberly 2—Waunakee cut down Kimberly’s attempt for a suicide squeeze in the top of the seventh inning to preserve a Division 1 quarterfinal victory.
Connor Hurst, who pitched a three-hitter, retired 11 straight Kimberly batters before designated hitter Mitch Schreiber led off the seventh with a single. Schreiber stole second and went to third when Waunakee misplayed losing pitcher Bryce Bellin’s bunt, putting Papermaker runners on first and third with nobody out.
Hurst then took charge to finish the game. After a strikeout, he grabbed Luke Van Handel’s pop-up bunt, then tagged out Schreiber for an unassisted double play that gave the Warriors (26-5) the victory.
Kimberly (22-8) took a 1-0 lead on Sam Rein’s sacrifice fly in the top of the first, but Waunakee went up for good with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Matt Follen capped that rally with an RBI double.
Waunakee went on to play defending state champion Bay Port in Thursday’s semifinals.
WAUNAKEE 3, KIMBERLY 2
Kimberly 101 000 0—2 3 3
Waunakee 300 000 x—3 7 1
Bellin and Randerson; Hurst and Pandow.
Leading hitters—Lamers (K) 2x3, Lyght (W) 2x4. 2B—Lyght (W) 2, Cefalu (W), Follen (W). 3B—Lamers (K).
SO—Bellin (K) 6, Hurst (W) 4. BB—Bellin 1, Hurst 1.
-- Waterford 13, Hartford 5—Southern Lakes Conference representative Waterford (15-11) withstood a two-hour rain delay to hammer Hartford (9-16-1) with a 16-hit attack in the Division 1 quarterfinals.
Zach Forray, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter, drilled a three-homer as Waterford grabbed the lead for good with four runs in the top of the first.
Hartford took advantage of four straight Waterford errors in the second inning to pull within 4-3. However, the Wolverines were up 8-5 before the lengthy delay in the fourth.
Forray finished with three hits and three RBIs to lead Waterford. Justin Kurth and Joe Sturino also had three hits apiece for the Wolverines.
WATERFORD 13, HARTFORD 5
Waterford 404 002 3—13 16 5
Hartford 032 000 0—5 4 2
Forray and Buchman; Sprtel, Schowalter (4), Thiery (7) and Bradner.
Leading hitters—Dessart (W) 2x5, Jensen (W) 2x5, Sturino (W) 3x4, Forray (W) 3x5, Kurth (W) 3x4, Thiery (H) 2x3. 2B—Merlo (W), Todryk (W). 3B—Sturino (W). HR—Forray (W).
SO—Forray (W) 4, Sprtel (H) 2, Schowalter (H) 2. BB—Forray 3, Sprtel 2, Schowalter 1.
-- Bay Port 2, Merrill 1—Winning pitcher A.J. Gaura got an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh as defending state champion Bay Port broke a 1-1 tie and held off Merrill (22-5) in the Division quarterfinals.
The victorious Pirates had only two hits off losing pitcher Zach Wendorf, but they overcame a 1-0 deficit with an unearned run in the fourth.
Bay Port (23-7) went on to play Waunakee (26-4) in Thursday night’s semifinals.
BAY PORT 2, MERRILL 1
Merrill 000 100 0—1 5 2
Bay Port 000 101 x—2 2 0
Wendorf and Anderson; Gaura and Sommer.
Leading hitters—Schlueter (M) 2x3, Detert (M) 2x3. 2B—Boyd (M).
SO—Wendorf (M) 5, Gaura (BP) 11. BB—Wendorf 3.