Walk-off hit lifts Lakemen over Pterodactyls
One-run games are getting to be a familiar story for the Waupaca Lakemen.
All three of their latest games have been decided by one run, including a 5-4 win July 12 over Plover in a rematch of the two teams at the top of the BABA South-Central Division standings.
The Lakemen also split nondivision games with Pittsville and Hortonville.
Waupaca 5, Plover 4
WAUPACA – The Lakemen and Pterodactyls continued their recent history of close games. The latest matchup proved to have more of the same excitement for players and fans alike.
One reason for so much action is there were very few strikeouts, as only three Lakemen and two opponents went down on strikes. That meant there were plenty of batted balls in a fast-paced game. The only negative factor was occasional wildness by both pitchers, with Lakemen hitting five Pterodactyls and walking two others. Plover hit two batters and walked three.
The game started badly for the Lakemen, as Plover had two runs on the board after only three batters. A leadoff hit, an error and a line drive double to left center by John Jasenovsky drove in a pair of runs. Lakemen starter Jeff Riddle then got a fly ball, ground ball and strikeout to keep the deficit at 2-0.
The Lakemen again had a hard time pushing any runs across. They had two on in the first after a walk and error and put two more runners on in the second on a walk and hit batter, but the missing ingredient was a hit. In fact, the Lakemen did not get their first until the sixth inning, as no one reached base in the third, fourth and fifth.
Riddle got some help from his team’s defense as well. He walked a man in the second, but Waupaca turned a 5-4-3.
Riddle doubled off a hit batter in the third after snagging a comeback liner.
Plover wasted solo hits in the fourth and fifth and pitcher Eric Fritz led off the sixth with a single, moved up on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a Jason Jones single. The Lakemen got out of the frame after the next man flew out to Nate Nelson in short right field and his throw home was on the money to cut down a runner who tried to tag up and score.
Trailing 2-0 Wes Austin reached on an error to start the Lakemen sixth. A David Yeska single moved Austin to third. Beau Ash walked and Rocky Mondello grounded to short, but a run scored to cut the lead to 3-1.
Cam Seidl came on to pitch the seventh for the Lakemen and retired the side in order. The Lakemen had hits from Travis Holat and Austin, but still trailed by two runs heading into the eighth. Plover opened the eighth with a single and double and loaded the bases with a hit batter. Jones hit a soft fly to short left that was not deep enough to allow even an attempted score. The last man grounded into a force out and the Lakemen still had a chance.
Luke Behm started the rally in the bottom of the eighth with a booming home run to dead center field to cut the margin to a single run. After a fly out, Mondello blooped a single to short left. Joe Nelson was called on to pinch run and just in time, as Nate Nelson unloaded a ball off the fence in left center that allowed the him to score from first and tie the score. With Nate Nelson on second, pinch hitter Jim Nighbor flew out to center, but Josh Peterson came through with a two-out single to right that plated Nelson with the lead run.
Plover would not go easily. Seidl did get the top two in the order to start the ninth, but hit Jasenovsky. A courtesy runner moved up on a wild pitch and Fritz hit a slow roller toward short that he beat without a throw.
The tying run scored on a passed ball before Seidl recorded a strikeout.
That meant possible extra innings, but Austin led off the ninth with a first-pitch single to center field. Yeska bunted, but the throw to second was a bit high and Austin slid in safely. Behm was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with still nobody out. With all infielders playing up as well as the outfielders shortening their depth, Ash popped up for out No. 1. After a lengthy battle between Fritz and Mondello that saw the count go to 3-2, Mondello hit a fly ball to deep left that dropped over the head of the left fielder for a game-winning walk-off single.
Seidl was credited with his first Lakemen win and Fritz took the loss. Both teams had nine hits with Fritz leading the way with three and Howie Heinrich adding two.
Austin and Mondello had two hits for Waupaca as the Lakemen improved to 12-6 overall and 7-1 in South-Central play.
Pittsville 4, Waupaca 3 (7 inn.)
The newly formed Pittsville River Bandits came to Lakemen Field for the first time and returned home July 10 with a win.
The Lakemen scored in the first inning, as Riddle walked, stole second and scored on Ash’s single.
Pittsville scored three times in the second without hitting the ball past the infield grass. Joe Nelson walked the leadoff man. The next man hit a slow roller and was credited with a single, but the throw to first was wild to put two runners in scoring position. One scored on a wild pitch and the other on a passed ball. The third run scored on a squeeze bunt. Nelson then pitched effectively through the sixth, allowing only two more hits.
The Lakemen tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Ben Selsing singled, Nelson walked and both scored on Riddle’s double.
Andy Wanty relieved Nelson in the seventh and got the first two batters – one on a strikes and another on a diving catch by Austin in center field – but gave up an infield single and double. Wanty got out of the inning, but the damage had been done.
The Lakemen got two runners on via two-out walks in the seventh, but the game ended on a strikeout.
Waupaca 1, Hortonville 0 (7 inn.)
HORTONVILLE – Austin’s solo home run in the top of the sixth inning turned out to be the game’s only run.
Hortonville’s starter held the Lakemen to four hits over six innings. Two of them came in the third on Jake Reedy’s double and Ethan Dayton’s single.
Riddle went the first two innings and only gave up a single and Yeska followed with three innings of one-hit ball as well. He was aided by a key strikeout/throw out stealing double play to get him out of his only jam.
Selsing followed Austin’s home with the only other Lakemen hit of the night, but was stranded on second base.
Nick Meyer came on in relief in the bottom of the sixth. He walked a man who later stole second, but didn’t score.
He gave up a two-out single in the seventh, but got the last man to fly to right to end it and pick up a save. Yeska was credited with the win.
The two teams will play again Friday, July 17.
• All former Lakemen players are invited back to Lakemen Field to play an intrasquad game starting at noon Sunday, July 19. The game will finish by 1 p.m. in time for the scheduled league game with Lanark.
• Several Lakemen old-timers will play Saturday, July 18, in a golf outing at the Waupaca Country Club.
• The team’s other two big events will be held during the last week of July. Fan Appreciation Night is set for Wednesday, July 29, as the Lakemen host Little Falls. All fans can get in free and buy as many 50-cent raffle tickets that they want. Several prizes donated by area merchants and Lakemen supporters will be given away each half-inning starting in about the third inning. Prizes range from 12-packs of soda to golf passes to $50 savings bonds and everything in between.
The team’s annual Jackpot Raffle drawing will be held Friday, July 31, after the Lakemen take on the Appleton Legends. Tickets sell for $10 and $2,000 will be handed out to holders of 20 of the 300 tickets. All Lakemen players and the concession stand have tickets for sale while available.