Although the Waupaca Lakemen dropped two of their last three regular-season games, the team will open the BABA South-Central Division playoffs Sunday, Aug. 12, by hosting New London at 1:30 p.m.
Waupaca received the No. 2 seed in the division playoffs, while the Merchants are seeded third. The other South-Central playoff game has No. 4 Scandinavia traveling to No. 1 Plover.
Plover and Waupaca each finished atop the South-Central standings with a 10-4 record, but the Pterodactyls also swept the Lakemen during the regular season, including a 7-3 decision Aug. 5.
Plover 7, Waupaca 3
Plover had only five hits off of Lakemen starter Braden Kaminske in the first five innings. One baserunner reached third base with one out, but Kaminske made two good plays on bouncers back to the mound to prevent any scoring.
The Lakemen, meanwhile, had only four hits off of Plover starter Kevin Malnory. Two of those hits came from Kaminske and Cam Nicewander in the second around a fielder’s choice groundout, but Malnory got David Yeska to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
The Lakemen had a better threat in the third, as Andy Wanty reached on a bad-hop single. He was bunted to second and Jason Wanty and Wes Austin were plunked by pitches to load the bases with only one out. However, Luke Behm popped out and Kaminske grounded out and the opportunity was gone.
Ethan Dayton singled in the fifth and was bunted to second, but a strikeout and groundout left him there.
Plover’s leadoff man reached on a single in the sixth. The next man wanted to bunt, but instead drew a walk. Kaminske got the tough third hitter to pop out, but a clean single to right field and a sacrifice fly to deep center plated the game’s first two runs.
Plover tacked on an unearned run in the seventh without the benefit of a hit. The next man bounced slowly toward the mound, but Kaminske’s throw to second pulled Austin just off the bag. Later in the inning, a throwing error with two outs allowed run No. 3 to score. Jim Nighbor had come on in relief in the inning and threw out a runner trying to score on a squeeze bunt.
Plover added two more runs in the eighth off of Nighbor on four hits, but only a one-out double was hit hard. The other hits were a blooper, infield hit and a popup on the infield that was lost in the sun. Those runs made it a 5-0 game.
The Lakemen mounted a comeback in the eighth, as Austin led off with a walk, Behm singled and Kaminske doubled to drive in Austin. Rocky Mondello walked to reload the bases with no outs. Nicewander hit a shot that deflected off of the pitcher to the shortstop for a force out, with Behm scoring. Nighbor then grounded to short for another force out, but beat the relay to first as Kaminske scored to cut the margin to 5-3.
Plover again got back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth. The second was a bouncer that was just inside the third base bag and into short left. Shortstop Tyler Goggins hustled to the ball and tried to get the lead runner at third, but just missed. A bouncer back to the mound kept them in place, but a double to right field plated one run and a groundout to first got the second run home. Reliever Jason Jones did not really need it, as he struck out the side in the inning to end the game.
Nicewander had three of Waupaca’s eight hits and Kaminske added two. The Lakemen stranded seven runners. Every spot in the Plover batting order had one hit except John Jasonovsky, Howie Heinrich and Brad Archambeau, who had two each. Plover finished with 12 hits and left nine runners on base.
Waupaca 8, Hortonville 4
HORTONVILLE – The Lakemen took an early two-run lead Aug. 1, as Austin reached on an outfield error and scored on Andy Wanty’s single. Wanty scored later on Nighbor’s single.
Waupaca added three more in the second, as Dayton walked, Kyle Douglas singled and Eric Brehmer walked to load the bases. Behm cleared them off with a double off of the fence in center field.
Nighbor started on the mound for the Lakemen and got the first five hitters of the game. He then walked a batter and the next man immediately doubled to the gap to cut the score to 5-1. The Lakemen got that run back in the third, as Nighbor and Yeska had back-to-back doubles with one out. Yeska eventually scored as Brehmer beat out an infield single to deep short.
Nighbor worked through four innings and was credited with the win, as he left leading 7-1. Seth Deuman came on for his first mound appearance as a Lakemen. The first man he faced doubled and eventually scored on an infield out.
The Stars had there straight hits with two outs in the sixth, as two singles were followed by a double and the lead was cut to 7-4. The Lakemen scored an insurance run in the seventh, as Will Marringa doubled with two outs and scored on a throwing error.
The Lakemen had 10 hits, but only Nighbor managed more than one as he was 2×3 at the plate. The Nighbor/Deuman combo allowed eight hits, walked one and struck out four.
Appleton 2, Waupaca 0
WAUPACA – The Legends shut out the Lakemen Aug. 3 in a game that only lasted 1 1/2 hours.
A pair of Appleton pitchers held the Lakemen to two singles and a pair of walks. They also committed only one error, so the Lakemen had few baserunners. Nine Lakemen batters went down on strikes.
Marringa scattered five hits over 6 1/3 innings. Three of those hits were in succession in the third, as Appleton grabbed a 1-0 lead. Marringa got through the fourth and fifth innings in order, although he was helped with one out on a fantastic play in the hole by Goggins at shortstop. Marringa walked only two batters, but one of those led off the sixth. That runner eventually scored, as he moved up on a groundout and passed ball to get to third. From there, he scored on a good squeeze bunt.
Marringa injured himself fielding the bunt and was replaced by Yeska, who gave up an immediate single, but got the next four batters he faced.
The Lakemen never really threatened to score, although Goggins did single in the third and was bunted to second, but was left stranded there. Jason Wanty had a solid one-out single in the sixth, but did not advance. Finally, with two outs in the seventh, Deuman reached second on a throwing error by the third baseman, but Goggins flied out to center to end the game.
• Fans are reminded that season tickets are not valid in the BABA playoffs and the South-Central charges $2 admission to help defray costs of the extra games.