Three days, three games, three wins.
The Weyauwega-Fremont baseball team won its first regional championship in several years June 5 with a 3-0 win over Iola-Scandinavia in a Division 3 regional final on the Thunderbirds’ home field. W-F also opened tournament play with wins over Manawa and Rosholt (see related stories).
Although the T-Birds had defeated the Indians twice during the regular season and went on to win a Central Wisconsin 8 Conference championship, W-F came out on top in the third meeting.
It looked at first like the game would be one of the quickest in recent memory, as the contest turned into a pitcher’s duel between the Indians’ Bryce Akey and the T-Birds’ Cam Gruenwald.
It took less than 40 minutes to get through the first four innings and neither team had scored. That all changed in the top of the fifth, however.
Gruenwald opened the inning by striking out Akey and getting Kaleb Sciborski on a grounder. He then struck out Blake Hudziak for what would have been the third out, but I-S catcher Steve Niemi let the ball slip away and Hudziak was safe at first after reaching on a passed ball.
Sam Schoenick singled to put runners at first and second and Zach Costello drove in Hudziak with the game’s first run. Trevor Wetzel followed with a two-run double that scored Schoenick and Costello. Gruenwald eventually got Adam Krause to fly out for the third out, but the Indians had a 3-0 lead.
Akey retired the T-Birds in order in the sixth. Nick Wavruk and Nate Korb singled with one out in the seventh for I-S. Niemi hit into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corner with two outs, but Brady Snyder’s popup ended the game.
Bosquez and Costello had two of the Indians’ seven hits.
The fifth inning turned out to be the difference in the game, according to W-F coach Joe Sambs.
“That one inning is all it takes,” he said. “Both pitchers did an outstanding job and kept hitters off-balance. We just had that one inning where we strung some hits together after that error and that’s all we needed.”
The passed ball gave the Indians a boost, I-S coach Pete Timdal said.
“Sometimes when you’ve got a pitcher that throws good curve balls in the dirt, that happens and you just have to overcome it,” he said. “You have to give them credit. After that mistake, they hit the ball well, three hits in a row. Nothing you can do about that.”
Gruenwald took the loss despite striking out eight batters.
“He threw the ball really well tonight,” Timdal said. “It was that one bad inning. Sometimes, mistakes roll into other problems and it kind of spirals out of control. That’s kind of what happened in that inning.”
Akey picked up the win on the mound.
“He was changing speeds a lot and keeping the ball away,” Sambs said. “He was making them pull things. You saw guys popping up shallow to the outfield.”
Timdal said the loss shouldn’t take away what the T-Birds accomplished this season, including a conference championship.
“I think 2008 was the last one,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of guys reviving the Legion program here, so these kids are going to be playing baseball this summer. I think we’re on the right path here and I’m proud of these guys. They played hard all year. It just wasn’t meant to be today.”
“We definitely beat some outstanding teams and we appreciate the opportunity (to go to sectionals),” Sambs said. “The kids are playing outstanding ball. It’s easy for me because I can just sit back and watch.”