After making 13 BABA Grand Championship appearances in the 1970s and 1980s – and winning five in a row at one point – the Waupaca Lakemen have played in only three title games in the last 22 seasons.
The team gave their fans plenty to cheer about Sunday, as Waupaca collected 30 hits in a 19-7 win over Tigerton.
The home field advantage wasn’t much of an advantage to the Tigers, especially in the home run department. Waupaca knocked five out of the park, including a three-run shot from Josh Peterson; a two-run blast and a solo shot from most valuable player Braden Kaminske; another two-run shot from Luke Behm; and solo homers from Kaminske and Andy Wanty. The Tigers countered with a two-run homer from Dylan Berg and Mike Weatherwax and solo shots from Jordan Hintz and Ben Schoen.
The win is Waupaca’s 13th Grand Championship and first since 1994.
“We usually win with pitching and defense, but this time, we got tremendous support from the offense,” manager Dave Peterson said. “Going back to the beginning of the season for comparison, it took us until the sixth inning of our fifth game before getting our 30th hit of the year.”
Jeff Riddle started on the mound for Waupaca and held Tigerton’s offense in check by allowing seven hits over six innings.
Although he gave up all for of Tigerton’s homers, he also pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning after the Lakemen committed two of their three errors.
Waupaca scored in six of the game’s nine innings. They did not score in the first despite loading the bases on a walk, hit and error. David Yeska grounded into a double play with a bouncer to Berg at shortstop.
Rocky Mondello got things going for Waupaca in the second with a one-out double and scored after Josh Peterson’s fly ball to left-center was dropped for an error. Riddle then drove in Peterson with a single to right to give Waupaca a 2-0.
The lead didn’t last long, as Tigerton tied the game on a hit, fielder’s choice and Berg’s homer.
Neither team scored in the third and Tigerton turned another double play on Behm’s smash grounder.
Lakemen batters started finding gaps in the Tigerton defense in the fourth. Kaminske and Mondello started things with singles and Wes Austin lined an RBI single to center to give Waupaca the lead for good off of Tigerton starter Nick Desrochers. Peterson then lofted a two-strike fly ball that just cleared the fence in fair territory in left field for a three-run home run and the Lakemen had a 6-2 lead.
Kaminske tacked on a run in the fifth with a leadoff homer. Mondello, Austin and Peterson followed with singles, but Mondello was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Peterson’s hit to center field.
Tigerton answered with Weatherwax’s home run that followed a walk to make the score 7-4 entering the sixth.
The Lakemen took back the momentum after their first five batters reached in the sixth. Jason Wanty singled, Behm walked and Andy Wanty drove in a run with a single. Yeska shot a two-run single to right field and Kaminske followed with a double. After a groundout, Austin singled down the left field line to score Yeska. Kaminske then trotted home on Peterson’s single to right field. Austin tried to score on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at the plate and Riddle grounded out to end the inning with the Lakemen up 12-4.
Solo home runs from Hintz and Schoen cut the margin to 12-6 after six frames, but the Tigers wouldn’t get any closer.
The Lakemen delivered the demoralizing blow with a six-run seventh inning. Jason Wanty led off with a walk and Behm followed with a blast over the center field scoreboard. Andy Wanty went back-to-back with Behm with a home run to left. Yeska then singled and Tigerton changed pitchers.
Kaminske greeted Tigerton’s reliever with a two-run bomb over the fence in left center. Austin later singled and scored on a Jason Wanty single.
That big outburst made the score 18-6 and took most of the edge off of the game. Zac Peterson relived Riddle in the seventh and set the Tigers down in order.
Waupaca scored its final run with two out in the ninth, as pinch hitter Dean Nelson lined a single to left. Behm and Andy Wanty singled to load the bases. Nelson scored on a Yeska single, but Behm was thrown out at the plate.
Tigerton picked up an unearned run in the ninth, but Eric Brehmer caught the final fly ball in center and the Lakemen celebration was on.
Andy Wanty led the Lakemen at the plate with five hits, while Kaminske and Austin added four each and Jason Wanty, Mondello and Josh Peterson chipped in with three apiece. Josh Peterson drove in a team-high four runs, while Kaminske knocked in three.
“We concluded our season with a superb 23-10 record,” Dave Peterson said. “The team wants to thank all of their volunteer workers as well as the fans for their tremendous support throughout the year. Indeed, it was a tremendous ride.”