Lodi pitching shuts out Edgerton

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Dave Wedeward
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
— Edgerton High’s baseball season, which has been special in many ways, fell short of taking the ultimate step here Tuesday.

A season that started with Crimson Tide coach Mike Gregory getting his 300th career victory ended with a 4-0 loss to Capitol North champion Lodi in the WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinals, but not before Edgerton had earned its third 20-win season in school history.

After going 13-3 as the Rock Valley North runner-up and finishing sixth in the coaches’ Division 2 ratings, the Tide had visions of making its first trip to the state tournament since winning the Class B title in 1990. But it wasn’t to be.

“We didn’t get the hit when we needed it,” Gregory said after a four-hit shutout by Lodi ace lefthander Donnie Manke halted Edgerton’s season at 20-6. “When we’d get something going, it was with two outs, and when we had (a chance for) a rally, we’d hit it right at ’em.

As a result, Lodi duplicated host Portage’s 4-0 win over Richland Center in the other semifinal game and moved on to the title showdown against the Warriors with a 22-6 record.

It was little consolation for Edgerton that Lodi pushed Portage (20-6) to the limit before dropping the sectional final, 7-6, in nine innings. But it was more than consoling, and certainly source of major pride, for the Tiders that Edgerton’s boys golf team highlighted the day by winning the Division 2 state championship—the first for the Crimson Tide in team competition since that 1990 baseball title.

“Good for them,” Gregory said when informed of the golfers’ success. “That’s really cool.”

It also was typical of Gregory’s pride in all the things Edgerton kids have accomplished, no matter what the sport, in his more than two decades as a head coach of Crimson Tide athletes. And his pride in this year’s baseball team was not lost in the sectional setback.

“It was a great year for these kids, and they’ll get to that (point of realizing it) eventually,” the 319-game baseball career winner said. “It always stings when you lose at this level, especially when these kids had aspirations of playing on for a while.”

One couldn’t conclude that one particular play prevented that from happening, but Gregory couldn’t help but ponder the situation.

“It’s too bad,” he said. “I think the game kind of swung on that controversial call with the bases loaded. It was a (3-2) pitch in the dirt (with two outs), and he (the plate umpire) rings us up.”

That occurred in the second inning with Edgerton leadoff hitter Evan Deegan at bat.

And instead of ball four to force in a run, the inning ended with the game still scoreless.

“If we get on the board first, who knows what can happen?” Gregory said. “But you’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities when you play a good team, and they’re a very good team.”

Lodi showed that in jumping on its opportunities against the strong pitching of Edgerton sophomore Lucas Gregory, who also threw a four-hitter.

The Blue Devils finally broke through with back-to-back doubles by Bryce Ziegler and Chris Miller to lead off the fourth inning. And for a long time, it looked like that 1-0 lead would be the only scoring.

Lodi, however, put the game out of reach in a sixth inning that started with Manke’s leadoff double to right field, which led to three unearned runs. The first was on an errant fielder’s-choice play at the plate, followed by a sacrifice squeeze bunt and a sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, the Edgerton offense was stuck in neutral, thanks to Lodi’s clutch defense on the Tide’s hard-hit balls, which squelched potential outbursts in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

“It’s a shame, because Lucas (Gregory) pitched a great game,” the Edgerton coach said. “He gave us a chance to win, but we just didn’t get the job done on offense today.”

Bottom line: Portage, coached by Janesville Craig graduate Mike Hemming, comes out of this sectional in search of its first state title since grabbing the gold in 2006.

Last updated: 8:50 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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