The Badger Amateur Baseball Association season is quickly winding down and the Waupaca Lakemen are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
The Lakemen improved to 7-3 in South-Central Division play July 8 with a 4-3 win over New London. Plover held on to the top spot in the standings with a win over Weymont, while Waupaca and New London came into their game with identical 6-3 marks.
Waupaca 4, New London 3
WAUPACA – A nice-sized Lakemen Field crowd was treated to a nine-inning game that was completed in just under two hours.
Both pitchers – Waupaca’s Braden Kaminske and New London’s Eric Rasmussen – went the distance and threw strikes.
New London leadoff man Joe Sambs reached on an error by third baseman Andy Wanty and Nate Krake sacrificed him to second. Kaminske got a strikeout and groundout to Wanty to escape with no damage.
Waupaca went down in order in the first, as did New London in the second. The Lakemen got a two-out hit from David Yeska, but nothing else in the second.
Sambs singled with two outs in the third and stole second, but a groundout ended the inning. The Lakemen half of the third looked promising, as Wes Austin led off with a single moved to second on Ethan Dayton’s sacrifice bunt. However, a pop out and fly ball ended the inning.
The Lakemen got a leadoff single from Wanty in the fifth. After Austin popped out trying to bunt, pinch runner Seth Deuman moved to second on another Dayton bunt before Jason Wanty grounded out.
New London had a big chance in the fifth, Gary Herzfeldt and Matt Bruette singled with one out. Kyle Prey bunted them into scoring position and Sambs walked to load the bases, but Kaminske struck out Krake to close out the inning with both teams still having goose eggs on the board.
Andy Brooker led off the New London seventh with a long fly ball to left center. Yeska got to the ball after a long run, but it hit his glove and fell out for a two-base error. Lance Poppy immediately singled him in to break the scoring drought. The next batter grounded to second baseman Austin, who fired to the shortstop for a forceout. The throw to first was just late for the double play, but the base umpire ruled interference on the sliding Poppy at second so the double play stood. However, the Merchants had a 1-0 lead.
That lead held until the bottom of the seventh. The inning started innocently enough, as Rocky Mondello and Yeska flied out. Andy Wanty and Austin singled and pinch hitter Doug Peterson looped a pop up just over third but fair and into very short left field. The shortstop came from a long way away and got to the ball, but it dropped out of his glove with Wanty scoring to tie the game and runners ending up at second and third base. Jason Wanty then came through with a two-RBI single to right and Luke Behm drove in Wanty with a hit of his own for a 4-1 lead.
The Merchants then made a comeback of their own. Krake drew a one-out walk, Brooker singled and Poppy grounded what looked like a possible double play ball to Dayton, but it went between his legs and into the outfield as Krake scored. Rasmussen grounded out, but drove in the third run. Dayton then threw out Jim Thorpe at first to end the inning with the Lakemen clinging to a 4-3 lead.
Waupaca’s effort to add an insurance run failed as Kaminske led off with a single and was bunted to second by Mondello. Jeff Riddle and Wanty lined out to right. Fortunately, Kaminske had just enough left on the mound to get the bottom three in New London’s lineup on three ground balls outs in the ninth.
The Lakemen are still a game behind Plover, but a big logjam is forming between the current third- to sixth-place teams for third and fourth place. With four games remaining in divisional play, no team has any place locked up.
New London had three runs on five hits and three errors. The Merchants also had one stolen base, two sacrifice bunts, two walks, five strikeouts and two RBIs. The Lakemen had four runs on eight hits with three errors. They had one stolen base, three sacrifice bunts, one walk, no strikeouts and three RBIs.
Waupaca 5, Clintonville 4
WAUPACA – For the first time in over 40 years, a Lakemen game was canceled for something other than heavy rain.
That happened July 5, when a nonconference game with Omro was canceled due to extreme heat. There was little or no disappointment from any of the players, fans, umpires or concession people.
The next night was not much better, but the game with Clintonville went on as scheduled. There were probably some who questioned the wisdom of playing that night as well, but the game turned out to be close and exciting, especially in the final innings.
Both teams’ pitchers had a hard time finding the strike zone in the early innings. Lakemen starter Tyler Goggins struck out the side in the first, but not before he had walked a couple and thrown a wild pitch that allowed a run to score.
Waupaca countered with a leadoff walk to Riddle. Jason Wanty singled him to third before the Lakemen successfully executed a first/third double steal with Riddle scoring with a tough head-first slide and just barely touching the plate. That run was nice, but could have proven to be costly as Riddle was slated to pitch the big game Sunday against New London. His throwing arm was injured and he was not able to pitch Sunday. Another walk plus a single by Cam Nicewander loaded the bases. Andy Wanty grounded out with a run scoring and another scored on an error to make it 3-1.
The A’s tied it in the second after two walks and an error by Goggins on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases. A strikeout helped, but another walk forced in one run. A grounder to third was thrown home for a forceout before Goggins walked in another run. Clintonville took the lead when their leadoff man walked to start the fourth. That was enough for Goggins, who was pulled in favor of Yeska. Eventually, Yeska would throw a wild pitch that would score the lead run.
The Lakemen offense went silent in innings 3-6, as only a hit batter and walk kept them from having 12 consecutive outs. Meanwhile, Yeska kept the game close with shutout pitching through the seventh inning. He allowed only one hit per inning and only one runner made it as far as third base.
The game headed into the seventh with Clintonville up 4-3. It was then that the Lakemen figured they might as well try “small ball.” Riddle led off with a bunt single and Jason Wanty followed with a bunt for a sacrifice, but it was perfectly placed and ended up being a single. Behm then squared to bunt and was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Kaminske popped out to first, but Nicewander came through with a walkoff single to right that ended with Wanty sliding across the plate just in front of the throw home.
Wanty and Nicewander led Waupaca’s seven-hit attack with three and two hits, respectively, and Yeska was credited with the pitching victory.
• All Lakemen players now have their Jackpot Raffle tickets and some have already sold their allotment.
It is advised that those wanting to make sure to get in on the fun at the drawing purchase theirs in the very near future. The drawing is not until July 27, but only 300 $10 tickets are sold. $2,000 in cash prizes will be won that night, with 20 lucky winners taking home various-sized prizes of up to $500. In a separate drawing that night, the Good Samaritans have an autographed Packer football going to the winner. Their tickets are $1 each and are sold at their hot dog stand next to the concession stand.
• Dean Nelson and the Lakemen also have designated Wednesday, July 25, as Fan Appreciation Night. A number of raffle prizes will be handed out during the home game with Little Falls. Prizes are donated by a many local businesses and range from hats, T-shirts, 12 packs of sodas to savings bonds, rounds of golf, Brewer tickets and everything in between. The best part is that admission to the game is free and raffle tickets cost only 50 cents each.
• The Lakemen played in Menasha July 11 and will host Freedom at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 13. That is the last home game for about a week, as Waupaca travels to Manawa at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, for a South-Central rematch with the Spurs. Waupaca will also play in Tigerton at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 18. They will then have that big week at the end of July with a home game Sunday, July 22, against Weymont and the promotions on the 25th and 27th.