Marshfield Post 54 third baseman Mitch Susa fields a bunt and throws Plover’s Keegan Johnston during a regional game Thursday at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
This story is sponsored by: The Marshfield Tiger Booster Club
By Paul Lecker
STEVENS POINT – Following a heartbreaking 8-6 loss in the bottom of the ninth inning to Plover on Thursday, the Marshfield Clinic Post 54 American Legion baseball team had to no time to sulk as it turned its attention to D.C. Everest in an elimination game just 20 minutes later.
Marshfield quickly put to bed the thought of a possible emotional hangover as it scored eight times in the bottom of the first inning and rolled to an 18-0 victory over the Evergreens to keep its state tournament hopes alive.
Marshfield (23-7) will play Plover (22-9) in the Class AAA regional championship game at 5 p.m. Friday at Bukolt Park. If the Blue Devils win, the two teams will play again in the double-elimination tournament, with the survivor qualifying for next week’s Class AAA Wisconsin State American Legion Tournament in Watertown.
“It was a tough way to the lose the first game, quite frankly, we gave Plover some runs in the first two innings that came back to haunt us, but we were afraid of was that we’d have nothing for the second game,” Marshfield coach John Southworth said. “We talked afterwards is the way to get that out of your system is to shut them out in the first and score some runs. Obviously, it worked out perfect.”
All nine starters, and 12 Blue Devils in all, had at least one hit and seven different players drove in at least one run in the victory over Everest, which stayed alive earlier Thursday with a thrilling 11-10 win over Stevens Point in which they scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win it.
Marshfield had six consecutive hits with one out in the first, with Shane Coker, Nolan Matson, Nate McDonald and Logan Johnson delivering RBI singles, and Jack Donahue crushing a bases-loaded double to plate three runs.
Coker, Matson and McDonald each had three hits, with McDonald and Coker finishing with three RBIs. Mitch Susa and Johnson both had two this and two RBIs, and Nathan Dupee and Jake Brueggen also had two hits apiece for Marshfield.
The Blue Devils had seven doubles and a triple among their team-record 23 hits in the win. The previous record of 22 was set against Stevens Point in 1984.
“You can’t get them all in the lineup sometimes,” Southworth said of his deep hitting talent. “It’s tough on the guys and tough on the coach, but I guess you could say it’s a good problem to have.”
Donahue struck out nine in five innings to earn the victory on the mound, and combined with Scott Berg on the four-hit shutout, which ended in seven innings due to the 10-run rule.
In the opener, Plover and Marshfield entered with 2-0 records in the regional, and as could be expected, the game went down to the final pitch.
Alex Slowey cracked a two-run home run to left field in the first and Jon Barnes had an RBI single in the second to put Plover up 3-0 early against Marshfield starter Sam Neville. A pair of errors led to Slowey even getting to the plate in the first.
Marshfield got one back in the fourth when Neville doubled and scored on an infield single by Coker, but the Blue Devils gave two back to the Black Sox in the bottom of the inning.
Jameson Kryshak had an RBI single and a two-out error allowed another run to score to put Plover up 5-1.
From there, Neville was superb, giving up only one more run and only two hits over the next four innings. In the meantime, Marshfield clawed back into the game.
Neville, Coker and Trevor Schwecke had RBIs singles in the sixth, and Logan Johnson smashed a solo home run in the seventh to tie the game at 5-5.
A sacrifice fly by D.J. Drohner put the Black Sox back up 6-5 after seven, before Marshfield again tied it when Susa scored on Nolan Matson’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Marshfield stranded a runner on second in the ninth before Plover put an end to the game in dramatic fashion.
A one-out error allowed Tyler Nalback to reach, and after a fly out, Slowey hit his second home run of the game to center field, sending Plover, the defending state champion, into the regional championship game.
Cal Geise earned the complete-game win for the Black Sox, striking out 10 without a walk.
The Blue Devils now turn their attention to Friday, where it is win or go home for the rest of the summer.
“We’re going to plan on playing two games,” Southworth said. “We have three or four guys that haven’t pitched. (Jeremy) Binder pitched Tuesday and he can come back, I’m sure Jack can pitch, I’m sure Bobby (Pilz) can go some. I’m not really worried about the pitching part of it. I’m glad we’re coming back here to play Plover tomorrow. I think we’ll put up some runs, we’ll just see what happens.”
Black Sox 8, Blue Devils 6
Marshfield 000 103 110 – 6 10 5
Plover 210 200 102 – 8 9 1
WP: Cal Geise. LP: Shane Coker.
SO: Sam Neville (8 inn.) 5, Coker (2/3 inn.) 0; Geise (9 inn.) 10. BB: Neville 1, Coker 0; Geise 0.
Top hitters: M, Neville 2×5, 2B, 2 runs; Mitch Susa 2 runs; Coker 2×4, 2 RBIs; Trevor Schwecke 2×4; Logan Johnson 3×4, HR, 2 runs. P, Geise 2 runs; Alex Slowey 3×5, 2 HRs, 2 runs, 4 RBIs; Matt McHugh 2 runs; Jameson Kryshak 2×4.
Records: Marshfield 22-7; Plover 22-9.
Blue Devils 18, Evergreens 0
D.C. Everest 000 000 0 – 0 4 2
Marshfield 821 403 x – 18 23 1
WP: Jack Donahue. LP: Tre Lemmer.
SO: Lemmer (1 inn.) 0, Adam Budnick (3 inn.) 1, Austin Wolff (2 inn.) 1; Donahue (5 inn.) 9, Scott Berg (2 inn.) 1. BB: Lemmer 1, Budnick 2, Wolff 0; Donahue 2, Berg 1.
Top hitters: M, Nathan Dupee2x4, 2 runs; Neville 2B, 3 runs; Susa 2×5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Coker 3×4, 2B, 3 RBIs; Nolan Matson 3×3, 2B, 2 runs; Schwecke 2×5, 2B, 2 runs; Nate McDonald 3×3, 3B, 2 runs, 3 RBIs; Jake Brueggen 2×2, 2B; Johnson 2×3, 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Donahue 2B, 3 RBIs.
Records: D.C. Everest 4-17; Marshfield 23-7.
2015 Class AAA American Legion Baseball Regional
July 21-24, at Bukolt Park, Stevens Point
Tuesday, July 21
Plover 14, D.C. Everest 4
Marshfield 17, Wisconsin Rapids 2
Stevens Point 5, Wausau 4
Wednesday, July 22
D.C. Everest 5, Wisconsin Rapids 4 (10 inn.)
Plover 8, Wausau 7 (11 inn.)
Marshfield 13, Stevens Point 5
Thursday, July 23
D.C. Everest 11, Stevens Point 10
Plover 8, Marshfield 6
Marshfield 18, D.C. Everest 0
Friday, July 24
Championship: Marshfield vs. Plover, 5 p.m. (if Marshfield wins, teams will play again for regional title)