The Waupaca Lakemen wrapped up the 2011 BABA season Sunday, Sept. 4, with a 10-0 Grand Championship win over Tigerton.
It was the second straight Grand Championship and 14th overall for the Lakemen, who also defeated Tigerton 19-7 in last year’s final.
“One championship is hard to get, so to put a couple together is amazing,” manager Dave Peterson said. “To win just one, a team has to be not only good, but also get some breaks. That certainly may have been the case in earlier playoff games, but not in the 2011 finale.”
Tigerton came into Sunday’s game with only one loss in BABA action, while the Lakemen had lost two. Both of Waupaca’s losses came in South-Central Division lay against Plover, a team that did not even qualify for the playoffs this year.
“When the dust had settled after Sunday’s game, we certainly were not lucky to win,” Peterson said. “In fact, we outplayed Tigerton in all phases of the game. We outhit Tigerton 12-4 margin and had the game’s only extra-base hit. We had but one error, while Tigerton committed three. We had five batters reach on walks and got four more on base after being hit by a pitch. Tigerton had one hit batter and two walks. The only area where Tigerton outdid the Lakemen was in strikeouts and that was only by a margin of one. A pair of Tigerton pitchers struck out nine Lakemen, while Zac Peterson got eight Tigers.”
The weather cooperated nicely, although there was a brief rain delay in the fourth inning. Tailgating fans from both teams started to show up at Lakemen Field at about 11 a.m., three hours before the scheduled start. By gametime, the crowd may have been the largest in history at Lakemen Field as fans were multi-layers deep from foul pole to foul pole and lined most of the outfield fence from left to center field. Peterson got off to a troublesome start, as he hit the game’s first batter, Dylan Berg, with a pitch and gave up a single to Ben Schoen. Jon Berg tried to sacrifice bunt, but it was too hard and Peterson got off the mound quickly and his left-handed throwing motion was perfect to get a forceout at third on the play. He then got a strikeout and forceout to escape unscathed.
The bottom of the inning started off in equal fashion, as Jeff Riddle was plunked by a pitch from Nick Desrochers. Jason Wanty grounded to third, but the throw to first was low for an error and the Lakemen had two on. Luke Behm hit a soft single to right that loaded the bases, cleanup hitter Braden Kaminske walked to force in a run with still nobody out, Rocky Mondello grounded into a forceout at home and David Yeska struck out. Andy Wanty picked everyone up with a two-run single to right.
“That hit may have the difference maker in the game, as there is a big difference between a three-run and one-run lead, plus the momentum Tigerton would have gotten had they gotten out of the inning only trailing by one,” Peterson said.
Tigerton got two on in the fourth when Tom Berg singled and Brad Breaker reached on an error. Peterson got out of that inning with an unassisted groundball to shortstop Jeff Riddle who scooped and easily stepped on the bag for a forceout. Casey McDaniel then helped to open the floodgates with a long leadoff home run to left center to lead off the bottom of the fourth. That seemed to spur the Lakemen, as Wes Austin and Riddle followed with singles. Two strikeouts slowed things, but a groundball to short was thrown wildly to first and Austin and Riddle, who started the play at first base, managed to score.
Schoen got his third straight hit for Tigerton with one out in the fifth. The ball briefly got by center fielder Kaminske, who fired to Riddle near second base. Schoen thought he might have a chance to get there after seeing the bobble, but Riddle fired a perfect relay to Behm at first, who slapped the tag on a sliding Schoen trying to get back to the bag.
Tigerton would get no other baserunner until one out in the ninth, as Jordan Hintz walked. Peterson was helped by a steady defense that also featured a great diving catch in deep right field by Jason Wanty in the eighth. Wanty landed wrong on his shoulder and had to be taken out of the game.
Andy Wanty and McDaniel singled for the Lakemen in the fifth and Austin was nicked by a pitch to load the bases. Riddle lined a single to left for to make it 7-0, while Jason Wanty bounced back to pitcher Desrochers, who started a nifty 1-2-3 double play to end the threat. That only slowed the Lakemen, as they came back in the sixth alternating hits with outs. Behm smashed a hit to left field, Mondello followed with one to right field and Andy Wanty came through with his second two-run single to left making the margin 9-0.
The final run came in the eighth against reliever Paul Sellner. Pinch hitter Tom Wanty reached by getting hit with a pitch, pinch hitter Doug Peterson drew a walk and Kyle Douglas and Austin were hit by pitches to force in the final run.
After that, it was just a matter of waiting for the top of the ninth to end, which Peterson did by striking out the game’s last hitter.
Peterson received the game’s MVP plaque by allowing four hits (three by Schoen) while striking out eight. Andy Wanty had three hits and four RBIs, while Riddle, Behm, Mondello and McDaniel all pitched in with two hits each.
• All Lakemen players who were at the game got into the action. The only exception was Dean Nelson, who volunteered to stay in the announcer’s booth and complete the duties up there rather than pinch hit. Two younger players, Will Marringa and Cam Nicewander, were not able to get to the game. Relief pitcher Jim Nigbor planned on making it, but a small car accident in his return from La Crosse delayed him. He did get to the ballpark just after the awards ceremony ended and was not injured in the mishap.
• The Lakemen thank all who attended the game. “It was probably not as exciting as the wild semifinal win, but it sure was satisfying to play a solid game before such a huge throng,” Dave Peterson said. “It is hoped that all will come back to the park next season. There really is not much better entertainment for a $2 admission anywhere. There also is not any better deals than on concessions at the stand or the chance to help the Lakemen as well as the Good Samaritans by buying hot dogs or hamburgers.”
• The Lakemen also want to thank all of the volunteers who helped with game ticket sales and raffle ticket sales during the playoffs. “That was a great boost to our organization,” Peterson said.
• Fans who supported the Lakemen by donating their sales receipts from Piggly Wiggly to the organization can continue to do so during the offseason by getting them to any Lakemen player or concession worker. “That greatly helps provide the Lakemen with financing,” Peterson said.
• The Lakemen remind all fans of their upcoming offseason events. The two primary ones are the nine-pin bowling tourney at Nelsons’ Strike Zone and the team’s winter banquet. Short reminders will be printed as those events approach, so interested fans can watch the County Post West for information, as the events are usually around the end of the gun deer season and New Year’s Day.