Trail ends for Janesville Craig, Milton
The Red Hawks won the Badger South Conference title, while the upstart Cougars surprised many by finishing second in the Big Eight.
Unfortunately for both teams, Tuesday was forgettable.
Neither team generated any offense as both lost Division 1 Beloit Sectional semifinal games. Tyler Christensen limited Craig to only four hits to lead Oconomowoc to a 4-1 win, and Milton’s offense stalled in a 6-1 loss to Madison La Follette. Oconomowoc earned the state berth with a 3-1 win over the Lancers in the title game.
Craig, which finished 20-8, took an early 1-0 lead on Nick Blomgren’s RBI single in the bottom of the first. That was the extent of the Cougar offense as only two baserunners reached as far as second base the last six innings. Christensen finished with three strikeouts and at one point retired 13 of 14 batters.
“He wasn’t overpowering, but he made good quality pitches when he had to,” Craig coach Vic Herbst said of Christensen. “We just couldn’t get anything going, and when we did get an opportunity, we didn’t take advantage.
“When you get to this point of the tournament, you have to hit and manufacture a few runs. We weren’t able to do that and it cost us.”
Craig got a quality start from righthander Colin Frey. The junior worked the first six innings and allowed only one run. Oconomowoc tied the game in the sixth on Matt Klink’s bloop RBI single that barely eluded the outstretched glove of Craig second baseman Riley Quinn.
Oconomowoc put an end to the Craig season with three runs in the seventh. An error, two walks and two hits keyed the rally, and the Cougars could not answer in the bottom of the inning as Christensen got Cameron Wright on a fielder’s choice groundout with two runners on to end the game.
Herbst said the decision to lift Frey after six innings was the right one.
“Colin’s pitch count was up there where he was going to be pitch by pitch, and our bullpen has been solid all season,” Herbst said. “I didn’t think one run was going to be enough when we scored early, and unfortunately, that was the case.
“But overall, there were so many positives to come out of the season. We have nothing to hang our heads about.”
n La Follette 6, Milton 1—Like the Cougars, the Red Hawks took a 1-0 lead in the first but were stymied after that.
Milton starter Sam McCann struck out 10 but was hurt by seven walks and La Follette’s 4-run seventh.
“We didn’t put enough pressure on them, and they put enough on us where they were able to capitalize,” Milton first-year coach Ryan Neuenschwander said. “We always try to get that one run early when Sam’s pitching so he can breathe a little easier out there, and then try to get the big inning later on. We got the run right away but just didn’t hit after that.”
Milton (15-8) struck first on McCann’s single up the middle that scored Adam Catacutan with two outs in the bottom of the first.
La Follette tied the game in the third on a passed ball before taking the lead for good in the fourth when Michael Harrington walked with the bases loaded.
The Red Hawks had a golden opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the sixth. Brandon Ross, who finished 2-for-2, singled to start the sixth and moved to second when Dane Burman walked. McCann popped out to the catcher for the first out, but Andy Haney walked to load the bases.
A strikeout and groundout ended the threat as La Follette reliever Nate Ricci came in to end the threat.
The Lancers blew the game open with four runs in the seventh, capped off by Casey Seelow’s two-run single. Seelow had struck out the first three times up against McCann. Milton went 1-2-3 in the seventh.
“This hurts, but we’ll take a lot of good memories from this season,” Neuenschwander said. “A Badger South title, a great, fun group of guys to work with will be what everyone’s going to remember the most. Not today’s loss.”
OCONOMOWOC 4, CRAIG 1
Oconomowoc 000 001 3—4 6 2
Craig 100 000 0—1 4 3
Christensen and Roberts; Frey, Malmanger (7), Blomgren (7) and Marro.
Leading hitters—DeLucchia (O) 2x3, Blomgren (JC) 2x3,
SO—Christensen (O) 3, Frey (JC) 4, Blomgren (JC) 1. BB—Christensen 3, Frey 3, Malmanger 1, Blomgren 1.
LA FOLLETTE 6, MILTON 1
La Follette 001 100 4—6 7 1
Milton 100 000 0—1 4 1
Verhage, Ricci (6) and Serlow; McCann and Haney.
Leading hitters—Espinoza (L) 2x3, Ross (M) 2x2. 2B—Ricci (L), Espinoza (L).
SO—Verhage (L) 4, Ricci (L) 3, McCann (M) 10. BB—Verhage 2, McCann 7.
W—Verhage. L—McCann. S—Ricci.