Casey Stone and his teammates were tired of crosstown rivalry losses.
He and the rest of the players on the Janesville Parker roster were in middle school, or younger, the last time the Vikings beat Janesville Craig on the baseball diamond.
They picked a fine—and stunning—time to end a 12-game skid.
Stone tossed a three-hitter Thursday evening at Riverside Park, and the ninth-seeded Vikings scored on an error in the seventh inning to shock top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Janesville Craig 1-0 in a WIAA Division 1 regional final.
“We came in with some momentum and a chip on our shoulder,” said Stone, who struck out three and walked one in the complete-game shutout. “We were ready to beat Craig. We were tired of losing.”
The Vikings, who beat the Cougars for the first time since June 10, 2014 in a sectional semifinal, will play fourth-seeded Milton in a sectional semifinal at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Oconomowoc. Second-seeded Oconomowoc and third-seeded Milwaukee Hamilton square off in the other sectional semi before a 4 p.m. sectional final.
Parker avenged a pair of 7-0 regular-season losses to Craig, as well as a loss in a sectional final a year ago.
“We came in knowing they thought they could just go right by us,” Stone said. “We were going to show them we were ready for them.”
Stone, coming off a relief appearance in Tuesday’s regional semifinal win at Mukwonago, stranded Craig runners in scoring position in three of the first four innings.
An honorable mention all-Big Eight Conference pick, he saved his best stuff for a postseason meeting with the Cougars. Stone got ahead in counts early on in the game with a sharp breaking ball and then battled from behind in counts quite a bit in the latter stages.
“He doesn’t always make it easy, but what a bulldog,” Parker first-year coach Kerry Michaels said. “He was low in the zone all day and spotting his pitches.
“He had such good stuff. What a performance.”
Craig senior Mitchell Woelfle, the Big Eight’s player of the year who entered the game with a 10-0 record, went toe-to-toe with Stone the entire way.
He faced one more than the minimum amount of batters over the first six innings and had allowed just one hit heading to the seventh.
“Just back and forth the whole game,” Stone said. “Six hits in 14 innings (combined). I just knew I had to come out and do everything I could for my team.”
In the seventh, Parker mounted a rally. Senior catcher Dalton Madsen led off with a sharp single to left field, and first baseman Jared Emerson followed with a single up the middle.
After Stone flied out, Woelfle threw a pitch in the dirt and Madsen broke for third base. Craig catcher Clark Schmaling blocked the pitch, corralled it and threw to third, where the Cougars might have cut down Madsen. Instead, the throw strayed down the left-field foul line, and Madsen scampered home.
“We knew we were right there,” Stone said. “We were hitting the ball well, and we knew our hits were going to fall.
“Then we got Dalton on the wild pitch, and I’m just grateful the ball got by them and we got in.”
Stone allowed a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh. But he induced a popout, struck out his third hitter of the night and ended the game on a foul popup on his 97th pitch of the night.
That walk was Craig’s only baserunner in the final three innings. Stone got some help from his defense, as shortstop Carter Schneider snared a hard liner by Gavin Kilen to lead off the fifth, and third baseman Cody Rhyner bobbled but held on to a line drive from Dan Blomgren leading off the sixth.
“My hat’s off to them, they came to play today,” Craig coach Victor Herbst said. “We couldn’t get to Casey. No runs on three hits. This one is going to sting for a while.
“A 1-0 game with an unearned run. Mitchell pitched his rear off today. … We just couldn’t deliver a couple runs.”
Parker, now 13-13 overall and riding a season-high four-game winning streak, will try to keep momentum going heading into Tuesday’s sectional.
“We’re just in a groove,” Stone said. “We wanted a chance to come back here and win another game at Riverside for me and the rest of the seniors.
“We did that. Now we’re ready to make a state run.”
PARKER 1, CRAIG 0
Parker (ab-r-h-rbi)—Meyer, 3b, 3-0-0-0; D. Madsen, c, 2-1-1-0; Emerson, 1b, 3-0-1-0; Warda, pr, 0-0-0-0; Stone, p, 3-0-0-0; Schneider, ss, 3-0-1-0; Mair, dh, 3-0-0-0; Rhyner, 3b, 0-0-0-0; Peterson, cf, 3-0-0-0; O’Leary, lf, 2-0-0-0; K. Madsen, rf, 2-0-0-0. Totals: 24-1-3-0.
Craig (ab-r-h-rbi)—Blomgren, ss, 3-0-1-0; Kussmaul, lf, 3-0-0-0; Hughes, cf, 3-0-0-0; Overley, 1b, 2-0-0-0; Hageman, pr-cr, 0-0-0-0; Schmaling, c, 3-0-1-0; Herbst, dh, 3-0-0-0; Woelfle, p, 0-0-0-0; Kilen, 3b, 3-0-0-0; Hesseling, 2b, 2-0-1-0; Christiansen, rf, 1-0-0-0. Totals: 23-0-3-0.
Janesville Parker 000 000 1—1
Janesville Craig 000 000 0—0
E—Craig 1. LOB—Parker 2, Craig 4. 2B—Schmaling. SAC—Christiansen. SB—D. Madsen, Schneider.
Parker IP H R ER BB SO
Stone (W) 7 3 0 0 1 3
Craig IP H R ER BB SO
Woelfle (L) 7 3 1 0 1 2