Micah Overley was staring down some danger.
The Janesville Craig senior had surrendered a leadoff triple to Sun Prairie’s Carson Shepard in the third inning and was going to need some help to keep the visiting Cardinals off the scoreboard.
The Cougars were up to the task.
Shortstop Dan Blomgren scooped up a grounder and fired home to catcher Clark Schmaling, who sprawled to make the tag on Shepard. Then, Craig turned another grounder into a slick 4-6-3 double play.
Sun Prairie didn’t threaten again, allowing the Cougars to pull away for a 10-0 Big Eight Conference win in five innings Tuesday at Riverside Park.
“They have one of the best programs in the state of Wisconsin,” Craig coach Victor Herbst said of Sun Prairie. “Our execution was really good.”
Shepard appeared to get a late break for the plate, giving Blomgren an extra moment to gather the ball and make a pinpoint throw on the game’s decisive defensive play.
“I saw our defense was playing back and checked the runner,” said Schmaling, who drove in a run and scored three times in the win. “He kind of stumbled back to third and then went home, so we made the decision to go home.”
Craig led 2-0 at the time. Had Shepard scored, the Cardinals would have been poised to do a lot more damage.
“That was a big play in the game because ... that stopped them from scoring their first run,” Herbst said. “If we didn’t get that out, now they’ve got a guy on with a run. That took them out of their scoring threat.”
Craig (8-0, 6-0 Big Eight) scored at least 10 runs for the fourth time this season. Blomgren, Overley and Gavin Kilen led the Cougars with two hits apiece, while Tegan Christensen ended the game via the mercy rule with a sharp two-run single up the middle in the bottom of the fifth.
Overley struck out four and walked one while allowing one hit in five innings. He was making his first start since April 5.
“He’s one of our go-to guys,” Herbst said. “He did a great job on the hill keeping us in the game and throwing strikes.”
Sun Prairie (4-4, 3-2 Big Eight), which defeated Craig twice last season on its way to sharing the league crown with Middleton, was shut out for the first time this spring.
And three Cardinals pitchers combined to allow 10 hits, four walks and hit two batsmen.
“We’ll find out if it was one of those days,” Sun Prairie coach Rob Hamilton said. “Next time we play them, we’ll find out if this was one of those days or if this was us. I don’t know right now where we’re at.”
Craig played small-ball to score two runs in the bottom of the first. A well-executed hit-and-run put two runners on with one out. Overley drove in one with a bunt single, and the Cougars added another run on a wild pitch by Sun Prairie starter Carson Fluno.
In the third, Schmaling scored on another wild pitch and Ryan Herbst hit a sacrifice fly to center.
Craig turned five hits and a pair of Sun Prairie errors into four runs in the fourth inning.
The Cougars loaded the bases with no outs an inning later, and Christensen knocked in the game-ending runs off reliever Robbie Knorr.
“It feels real good to beat them, especially 10-0,” Schmaling said.
The Cougars and Cardinals will meet again Thursday in Sun Prairie.
CRAIG 10, SUN PRAIRIE 0 (5)
Sun Prairie (ab-r-h-rbi)—Moreno, 3b/p, 2-0-0-0; Bartel, rf, 2-0-0-0; Caron, lf, 2-0-0-0; DePrey, c, 2-0-0-0; Wambach, dh, 2-0-0-0; Halbleib, 1b, 1-0-0-0; Shephard, 2b, 1-0-1-0; Knorr, ss/p, 2-0-0-0; Powley, cf, 1-0-0-0. Totals: 16-0-1-0.
Craig (ab-r-h-rbi)—Hughes, cf, 3-1-1-1; Schmaling, c, 1-3-1-1; Blomgren, ss, 3-1-2-0; Overley, p, 3-1-2-1; Kussmaul, lf, 2-0-0-0; Herbst, DH, 0-1-0-1; Kilen, 3b, 3-2-2-0; Hesseling, 2b, 1-1-1-0; Christensen, rf, 3-0-1-2. Totals: 19-10-10-6.
Sun Prairie 000 00-0 1 2
Janesville Craig 202 42—10 10 2
E—Sun Prairie 2, Craig 2. LOB—Sun Prairie 2, Craig 5. 2B—Kilen. 3B—Shephard. SF—Herbst. SB—Kussmaul. DP—Sun Prairie 1, Craig 1.
Sun Prairie IP H R ER BB SO
Fluno (L) 2 1/3 3 4 4 2 2
Moreno 1 4 4 2 0 0
Knorr 2/3 3 2 2 2 1
Craig IP H R ER BB SO
Overley (W) 5 1 0 0 1 4