The Waupaca Lakemen have guaranteed themselves a No. 1 seed in the BABA playoffs, which begin in two weeks.
Following an 8-0 win over Scandinavia Sunday, July 31, the Lakemen have a two-game lead over New London in the South-Central Division standings. That means the Lakemen will host any playoff game they are involved in. New London has locked up second place, but the final two South-Central playoff spots won’t be determined until Sunday, Aug. 7.
Besides a win over Scandinavia, the Lakemen also handed Omro a 5-1 defeat Friday, July 29, on Fan Appreciation Night.
Waupaca 8, Scandinavia 0
SCANDINAVIA – The matchup with the Vikings at first looked as if would be an old-fashioned pitching duel, as neither team scored through three frames.
Zac Peterson started for Waupaca and gave up a hit to Jesse Dickert in the second inning. Matt Louison led off the Vikings’ half of the third with a single to left field. He eventually moved to second on a walk to R.J. Rosenthal and to third on a fielder’s choice groundout, but the inning ended as Jason Berrens fouled out.
That was it for Peterson on the mound, as the Lakemen rotated three hurlers. Meanwhile, Scandinavia’s Matt Mehne allowed only a single to Rocky Mondello in the second over his first three innings of work.
The Lakemen scored three times in the fourth, as Jason Wanty blooped a hit to left, Luke Behm bounced a solid single to center and both runners moved up on Mondello’s sacrifice bunt. Braden Kaminske’s soft popup fell into short center for a hit and the game’s first RBI. David Yeska lined out to right fielder Andy Garr, but Behm tagged up and scored. Cam Nicewander shot a single to left to score Kaminske, but was cut down trying to advance on the throw home.
Jim Nigbor then came on for three innings on the mound and retired all nine batters he faced while striking out three.
“He was helped by a great play into the hole by shortstop Nicewander, whose throw to first was dug out of the dirt by Josh Peterson to end the fourth inning,” manager Dave Peterson said.
Nigbor helped his cause at the plate, as he drove in courtesy runner Nate Nelson with two outs in the fourth. Nelson was running for Casey McDaniel, who reached on an infield hit to the hole between short and third.
The crushing blow for the Vikings came in the sixth, as the Lakemen tacked on four runs. Mondello got things going with a single to right, but Garr then made a great diving catch in foul territory to get out No. 1. Yeska lined a shot into the right center gap. Garr made a diving attempt, but the ball got by him for a double with pinch runner Zac Peterson scoring all the way from first.
Rosenthal relieved Mehne and Nicewander greeted him with an RBI single to left before moving to third on two wild pitches. He scored on Wes Austin’s “swinging bunt” single down the third-base line. Another wild pitch allowed the fourth run of the inning to score and the Lakemen had an 8-0 lead.
There was not much offensive action from that point on. Kaminske came on to pitch the final three innings for the Lakemen. He walked two batters in the eighth and ninth, but did not allow a hit and was able to preserve the shutout. Rosenthal shut down the Lakemen with only a Dean Nelson single with two outs in the ninth, preventing nine straight outs.
The Vikings had only two hits in the game, but did get six walks and had five strikeouts. The Lakemen line score shows 12 hits (two each by Mondello and Nicewander), two walks and five strikeouts. Neither team committed an error.
Waupaca 5, Omro 1
WAUPACA – Waupaca was scheduled to host Little Falls for Fan Appreciation Night Wednesday, July 27, but heavy rains caused that game to be cancelled.
Omro was coming to town Friday, so the Lakemen moved the special event to that night. With all of the excitement and prize winners being announced between every inning, there was lots to keep track of.
Will Marringa pitched five innings to get the win and Yeska finished up for the save.
Neither team scored in the first two innings. Omro got on top in the third, as Marringa walked the bases loaded. A grounder to third was thrown wildly to first and Omro had a 1-0 lead. Marringa did settle down after that and got the last six hitters he faced in order.
Waupaca took the lead in the third. Jeff Riddle led off with a walk and stole second and Behm was plunked by a pitch. Mondello and Yeska followed with RBI singles and the Lakemen were up 2-1.
They added an unearned run in the fourth, as Riddle smacked a two-out double to left field and moved to third as the relay to the infield was misplayed. He scored as the next batter reached on a throwing error.
An insurance run came in the fifth, as two walks and an error loaded the bases with two outs. McDaniel walked to force in a run and the final run scored in the sixth, as Wanty, Nelson and Yeska singled.
The injured Wanty was able to play three innings, as he regains his full range of motion. Brother Andy is still just able to hit or run (not throw). Ethan Dayton strained a hamstring in the Omro game and was held out of the Scandinavia contest. All other Lakemen are at full speed.
The Fan Appreciation Night ran very smoothly. Dean Nelson and helpers received many great donations from area businesses. Fans seemed to have a great time and many of them took a prize or two home. Without Little Falls and their large contingent of supporters, the crowd size was down a bit from previous years, but the night was still termed very successful.
The final mid-week home game is Friday, Aug. 5, as the Elderon Whiskeyjacks come to town for a 7:30 p.m. game. Elderon is currently in first place in the North Division.
The Lakemen will play Rosholt at noon Sunday, Aug. 7, in Scandinavia during the Corn Roast. The Vikings will host the Lanark Lions in the second half of the doubleheader at 3 p.m.
BABA playoffs will get under way Sunday, Aug. 14, as the South Central’s fourth-place team travels to Waupaca and the third-place team goes to New London.