The Scandinavia Vikings and Waupaca Lakemen have played many amazing games in their BABA history.
With a spot in the South-Central Division finals on the line, the teams met Sunday in Waupaca in the first round of the playoffs. Waupaca squandered a 3-0 lead, battled back from a 5-3 ninth-inning deficit and handed the Vikings a 6-5 defeat in 11 innings.
“The two teams battled in what spectators said may have been the best BABA game they had ever seen,” Lakemen manager Dave Peterson said. “No doubt the postgame emotions may have had something to do with that evaluation, but it indeed was a game those who had to miss would be sorry.
“It had many ups and downs with several spectacular plays, as well as some rather routine misplays by both teams,” he added. “It must be remembered that these are amateur players giving all they have and it indeed was a fun afternoon. Sadly, somebody had to lose.”
Waupaca will now head to Plover to take on the Pterodactyls at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the division final. Plover advanced by beating Weymont in the first round.
The Vikings got a two-out single from Willie Rosenthal off of Lakemen starter Jeff Riddle in the first inning, while the Lakemen took advantage of a couple of lucky breaks to score twice in the first off of Matt Mehne.
Jason Wanty and Luke Behm singled and Andy Wanty looped a soft liner that lanced just inside the right field line for an RBI single. David Yeska then popped one up to Rosenthal, who lost the ball in the blazing sun and it fell for an RBI single. Braden Kaminske then lined out to deep center on a nice play by Jack Marx and Rocky Mondello grounded out to end the inning.
Riddle struck out the side in the second and the Lakemen added to its lead, as Wes Austin led off the bottom of the second with a hit. He was forced at second on Josh Peterson’s groundball. Riddle then lined a shot that Mehne knocked down for the out. Peterson had moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Jason Wanty’s single. Behm followed with a single and Andy Wanty walked to load the bases before Yeska’s liner that appeared headed into right center was caught on a leaping catch by second baseman Jeremy Moe.
The game then settled into a pitchers’ duel, as Riddle retired everyone in order through the sixth inning. Mehne did nearly the same, although the Lakemen wasted Peterson’s leadoff single in the fourth, a leadoff walk to Andy Wanty in the fifth and a leadoff single by Austin in the sixth. In fact, the next batter to reach for the Lakemen was Mondello on a two-out single in the eighth, but he, too, was stranded.
Scandinavia got the boost it needed in the seventh, as Moe and Rosenthal walked. Jason Berrens then launched a liner into the deep recess of left center that Kaminske got a great jump on and caught with a spectacular lunge.
However, Andy Garr tied the game on a drive to right center that carried over the fence.
The Vikings got two more hits in the frame from Jesse Dickert and Mehne, but couldn’t take the lead.
Kaminske relieved Riddle in the eighth and promptly gave up a leadoff single to R.J. Rosenthal, who moved to second on a bunt. Willie Rosenthal popped up to Behm at third base before Berrens was intentionally walked. Garr came to the plate and nearly spoiled the strategy, as he lined a shot toward right center, but Eric Brehmer cruised over and made a chest-high catch to end the inning.
That meant the game went to the ninth tied at 3-3. Dickert led off by getting hit by a Kaminske pitch. He was again sacrifice bunted to second. Hans Hartleben struck out and pinch runner Wes Mork was nearly picked off at second, but the throw was dropped. Marx then came through with a single to right and Mork was able to score by sliding in just ahead of Jason Wanty’s throw. The next batter grounded a ball to short, but it was booted as what appeared to be a deciding insurance run scored.
Trailing 5-3 going into their last at bat, Shawn Peskie led off and reached after his soft pop up to short was dropped. Riddle followed with a shot into the left-center gap that Hartleben made a diving attempt for and actually had in his glove until he hit the ground. The ball dropped for a double and the Lakemen had the tying runs in scoring position.
Jason Wanty then calmly stroked a single to center to tie the game, with Riddle coming in just ahead of Marx’s throw. Unfortunately Wanty did not take second on the throw. Behm grounded into a force out before Andy Wanty hit what appeared to be the game-winning home run to left, but Hartleben caught the ball with his back against the fence and easily doubled Behm off first to kill the inning.
Kaminske retired the Vikings in order in the top of the 10th. Mondello had a two-out hit for Waupaca, but was stranded.
Mehne singled to center with one out in the 11th, stole second and moved to third on an errant throw from the catcher. With only one out, the Lakemen brought their infield in. Hartleben popped out in foul territory for out No. 2 and Marx grounded out to third.
The Lakemen 11th started with a strikeout. Riddle then doubled down the left-field line and moved to third on a passed ball. Now it was the Vikings’ turn to bring the infield in. The strategy worked, as Jason Wanty grounded out to second with Riddle holding. Behm then came up and with one strike blasted a line drive that short-hopped the fence in right with Riddle scoring the winning run.
Mehne was charged with the tough loss, as he threw over 150 pitches in the game. He walked only two and struck out five. The Vikings were charged with only one error and left seven on base. They totaled seven hits, but no one had more than one.
Kaminske picked up the win. Riddle threw 98 pitches in his seven innings, walking two and striking out seven. Jason Wanty and Behm each had three of Waupaca’s 15 hits, while Riddle, Mondello and Austin had two each.