|6/12/2019 8:56:00 PM|
Pointer win puts top two D4 teams on course for state title
The perfect match-up was created on a rain soaked Neuroscience Field Wednesday when Webster beat Athens in the early game and Mineral Point nipped Belmont in the second Division 4 semi-final game at the WIAA state tournament.
That means the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association's top two ranked teams will square off the state title at 9 a.m. Thursday. Webster had to hold off two time defending D4 state champion Athens in a 4-3 barnburner while the Pointers were able to stay ahead of neighboring Belmont in the southwest Wisconsin flavored battle 6-2.
While former Major Leaguer Jarrod Washburn, coach of the Tigers has several options to choose from to send out to the mound vs the Pointers he will no doubt turn to his senior son, Jack, an Oregon recruit. Jack was summoned Tuesday to snuff our a potential threat from Athens but was able to stay under the pitch count that would have taken him out of the equation by inducing a double play and a ground out after walking the first batter.
Jack Washburn owns an 11-0 record with a 0.13 era with 111 strikeouts on 55 innings (now 56). He is a 6-2, 205 senior right hander.
In the other dugout coach Jordan Tibbits has a couple options open when he decides his "pitcher of the day." Unlike most teams with high school enrollment under 200 he has three number ones in his stable and two are waiting for the call.
Ready to go are the SWAL player of the year in lefthanded junior Grady Gorgen and senior Curtis Cox who has picked up some big wins for the Pointers over his career. Gorgen is 8-0 with 60 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched. He owns a 1.05 era and was the winning pitcher in the sectional final 2-1 win over Living Work Lutheran in the game that sent the Pointers to their second trip to the state tourney in two years.
Cox is also 8-0 with a 0.54 era and 48 punch outs in 39 innings. He is efficient on the mound as he has finished five his eight starts.
Tuesday the Pointers used sophomore Liam Stumpf who used his live arm to strike out 11 Braves in six innings. He left with 99 pitches thrown which eliminates him for the rest of the tournament. He gave up three hits one unearned run while walking four and hitting two.
Stumpf also played the igniter role for the Pointers with a home run over the left field fence, just inside the foul pole and 325 feet from home plate on the professional baseball field. His solo shot in the third pushed the score to 3-0.
Stumpf also lofted a fly ball near the warning track in left center in the bottom of the sixth that fell between two waiting Braves outfielders for a two run triple that scored pinch runner Will Strake who came in after Leyten Bowers walked and Grady Gorgen who had singled. Those two runs gave the Braves a much bigger hill to climb in their last at bats.
The Pointers started off with a two run outburst in the bottom of the first off Belmont starter Ethan James. Stumpf reached on an error, one of five for the Braves that day, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on an rbi single by Ian Lindsey. Lindsey then crossed the plate on Grant Bossert's rbi single.
The Pointers also got a run in the bottom of the fifth thanks to some wildness and an error which loaded the bases. Stumpf had reached third on an errant throw on a fielders choice and came home when Cox dropped down a bunt.
Belmont gave it a shot in the bottom of the seventh when they got to reliever Justin Baehler, who had switched places with Stumpf, for a run. Ethan James started the inning with a single and Brady Wedig walked. After Riley Christensen flew out to right and Baehler recorded his fourth strikeout, Luke Kamps sharply singled to send in James. Baehler walked the next batter to bring up Justan Ernst who represented the tying run but the game ended when he flew out to first
The first Braves run came in the fourth. Christensen doubled to the left center gap, Cody Lindholm was hit by a pitch and Kamps walked. Baehler spied Lindholm straying off second and tried to pick him off but his throw got away, allowing Christensen to score.
It was a day of many chances for the Braves but they were unable to capitalize on many of them, leaving 12 runners stranded. Their five errors also contributed to extended innings.
The Braves outhit the Pointers 7-5. Christensen and Kamps were 2x3 while James, Colin Austin and Ernst each had one hit.
Stumpf was 2x3 for the Pointers. Gorgen, Bossert and Cox had one hit each.
James went 5 1/3 for the Pointers with two strikeouts, four walks and four hits. Austin finished the sixth and gave up one hit.
While Tibbits was glad to see southwest Wisconsin so well represented he was not overly impressed with the Pointers' hitting.
"It wasn't our best performance offensively but Liam was great at the plate and provided us with a spark with his home run," Tibbits said.
"We did not have to make a lot of plays in the field with Liam striking out 11 and Justin four," he added.
The duo combined for nine straight strikeouts, fanning the side in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
"We were able to put the pressure on early and survived to advance by using only two pitchers," Tibbits added. "We are ready to roll tomorrow. Webster is a great team full of talent and we will have to play our best to win. But our guys are hungry and focused. It is amazing how far we have come in four years."
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