With two all-conference starters out of the lineup, Janesville Craig baseball coach Vic Herbst wondered if his team could generate enough offense Thursday.
He got his answer in the third inning.
Craig erupted for eight runs in the inning and coasted to an 11-7 win over Mukwonago in a WIAA Division 1 regional final game at Riverside Park. The game was delayed about 45 minutes due to lightning in the area.
Craig (15-8) plays Milton at 12:30 p.m. Monday in a sectional semifinal game at Sun Prairie. Host Sun Prairie and Oconomowoc play in the other semifinal game at 10 a.m.
Trailing 3-1 in the third, Craig sent 12 batters to the plate in opening up a 9-3 lead.
”I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Herbst said. “From the top of the lineup to the bottom, everybody contributed. The fact that we were missing two guys and were a little shorthanded is a moot point. The guys that were here got the job done.
”It comes down to being ready to play when your number is called, and that’s what happened today. Just an outstanding effort all-around.”
Jake Schaffner and Aiden Schenk, who were both first-team all-Big Eight selections, missed Thursday’s game due to playing in Showcase tournament games for their summer traveling teams. Both are expected back for Monday’s semifinal game.
Every player in Craig’s starting lineup had at least one hit. Patrick Schork led the way, going 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI.
Isaac Stried’s clutch two-strike double in the third gave Craig the lead for good at 4-3. The Cougars added five more runs, capped off by Trey Bock’s seemingly routine ground ball up the middle that skipped over the center fielder’s head for a two-run triple.
”That was huge,” Herbst said of Bock’s triple. “I’m not sure we get a run on that play if the center fielder comes up with the ball right away, and instead, we get a lucky hop and two runs score.
”But that’s what I really liked about our approach at the plate today. We stayed aggressive.”
Jack Ryan started for Craig and picked up the win. The sophomore right-hander allowed only one earned run and struck out four.
”Jack gave us exactly what we wanted,” Herbst said. “He threw strikes and gave us five good innings. Our defense let him down, but overcame that and didn’t let it bother him.”
Craig plays Milton for the second time this season Monday. The Cougars won earlier in the year 10-3.
CRAIG 11, MUKWONAGO 7
Mukwonago 030 103 0—7 11 3
Janesville Craig 108 020 x—11 11 5
Lorenz, Schindler (3), Brissette (6); Ryan, Schork (6)
Leading hitters—Johannes (M) 2x4, Abels (M) 3x4, Adams (C) 2x3, Schork (C) 2x4, Hughes (C) 2x3. 2B—Johannes (M), J. Stried (C), Schork (C), I. Stried (C), Hughes (C). 3B—Bock (C). HR—Rogosienski (M)
SO—Lorenz 4, Schindler 5, Brissette 1, Ryan 4, Schork 4. BB—Lorenz 1, Schindler 1, Ryan 2, Schork 1