|6/11/2019 9:05:00 AM|
Four top teams chasing Division 4 gold starting Wednesday
This is a Dodgeville Chronicle/Democrat Tribune sports story that is a Web Extra due to the time frame of the WIAA Division 4 State Baseball Tournament that starts Wednesday, June 12 and concludes Thursday, June 13.
Mineral Point and Belmont are two area teams in Division 4 and ironically are matched against each other in the semi-final game.
Only 13 miles separate the two teams geographically but Wednesday at 10:30 am at Neuroscience Field in Appleton only a dugout across the way will be the dividing line when a berth in the Division 4 state championship is at stake for Mineral Point and Belmont.
Those two teams earned WIAA Sectional titles the week before. Mineral Point, undefeated at 26-0 and favored to win the Sectional, had a nailbiter in a 2-1 win over Living Word Lutheran. The Braves are more of a surprise and may be the hottest team in the tournament with 14 wins in their last 16 encounters. To get to state the Braves beat Iowa-Grant 13-3, Highland 10-5, DeSoto 6-2 and Bangor 14-1 in five innings.
The two teams met near the end of the season with the Pointers winning 4-0.
The Pointers ran the table in the SWAL and are 26-0 going into the semi-final game while Belmont finished second in the Six Rivers West. They are 17-8 and were 8-5 in conference, finishing behind Shullsburg/Benton.
Common opponents between the two teams are Shullsburg/Benton, Iowa-Grant, Southwestern and Potosi/Cassville. The Pointers beat S/B 3-0, I-G 12-0 and 14-0, Southwestern 13-2, 5-1 and 10-0, and Potosi/Cassville 20-2. Belmont lost to I-G 10-7 and won 13-3, beat Southwestern 7-6 and beat Potosi/Cassville 6-3 and 10-1. In their two meetings with Shullsburg/Benton the Braves lost 6-3 and 10-1.
Following is a look at all four teams in WIAA Division 4. Webster and Athens will meet Wednesday at 8 a.m. with the Pointers and Braves set to face each other about 10:30 a.m.
The championship game will be Thursday at 9 a.m.
DIVISION 4 PREVIEW
Mineral Point, ranked, ranked second in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association/WSN poll, earned its second consecutive state trip, but made it as a Division 3 team last year. Coach Jordan Tibbits' SWAL champions beat Jackson Living Word Lutheran in a sectional final to take a perfect record to state. The Pointers average 9.9 runs per game, with 17 double-digit outings, and have allowed 45 runs all season (1.7 per game). Junior shortstop Isaac Lindsey is hitting .533 with 23 RBIs, junior pitcher/outfielder Grady Gorgen is hitting .465, and sophomore pitcher/outfielder Liam Stumpf is hitting .461 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs. Senior pitcher Curtis Cox is 8-0 with a 0.54 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 39 innings, and Gorgen is 8-0 with a 1.05 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 40 innings.
Belmont earned its first-ever state trip with a sectional victory over Bangor after taking second in the Six Rivers West Conference. Coach Trevor Kattre's Braves have won 14 of their last 16 games. Senior infielder Colin Austin is hitting .446 with four homers and 17 RBIs, and is 5-1 on the mound with a 2.77 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 43 innings. Senior pitcher Ethan James has a 1.35 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 36 innings, and sophomore Riley Christensen is hitting .420 with a team-best 24 RBIs.
Webster, ranked first, is again a Division 4 team after spending last year in Division 3 and winning the state championship. The Tigers, coached by former major-league pitcher Jarrod Washburn, also went to state in Division 4 in 2017. Coach's son Jack Washburn, a senior is the reigning Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association Division 3 state player of the year, and is 11-0 with a 0.13 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 55 innings. He is hitting .529 with six home runs and 45 RBIs. His younger brother, sophomore Owen Washburn, is hitting .561 with 45 RBIs and seven homers, and has a 1.12 ERA and 47 strikeouts as a pitcher. Senior pitcher Hunter Rosenbaum earned all-state honorable mention last year and is 10-0 with no earned runs allowed in 49 innings pitched, with 88 strikeouts.
Athens, the two-time defending state champion, is an honorable mention pick in the state rankings. Coach Bill Coker's Fighting Bluejays won the Marawood North Conference and beat Gibraltar/Washington Island in a sectional final. Senior Seth Coker was the Division 4 state player of the year in 2018, and a second-team all-state pick. This year, he is hitting .594 with 22 RBIs, and is 8-1 on the mound with a 1.70 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 53 innings. Senior Dakota Willemssen is 6-0 with a 0.42 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 50 innings.
*Orange and Black are the colors worn by Belmont and Webster. Royal blue and white are worn by the Pointers and Athens.
*While eyes will be on Webster and Mineral Point as the undefeateds look out for Athens who is the two time defending state champion. They are led by coach Bill Coker who has a 361-129 record over his 24 year career. His son, Seth Coker, was the Division 4 state player of the year in 2018 and is the leading hitter and pitcher for the Fighting Bluejays.
*Mineral Point coach Jordan Tibbits was a standout catcher for the Pointers in high school under coach Dan Burreson who he assisted until taking over.
*Belmont coach Trevor Kattre was one of UW-Platteville's top players when he played for the Pioneers. He played some Home Talent baseball with the defunct Platteville Woodchucks and the Shullsburg/Benton Fever.
*While Webster pitcher Hunter Rosenbaum's 10-0 record and an 0.00 earned run average may be impressive so are the 11 home runs that Pointer Liam Stumpf has recorded this season.
*Athens baseball was nominated for an NFHS Spirit of Sport Award for an incident that happened during the 2018 series. A member of the Fighting Bluejays team, Tucker Westfall, was killed in an UTV accident and a player and team manager were injured. Tucker had cousins on the team and his father was an assistant coach.
The tragedy occurred after Athens won the Regional title. They played the rest of the season in Tucker's memory and won the state title.
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