T-Birds going to state
Kurki brothers hold Coleman to three runs
By Greg Seubert
Crivitz High School’s baseball sectional featured the two top-ranked teams in Division 3.
Neither of them will be at state, however. That honor belongs to Iola-Scandinavia after the Thunderbirds handed Coleman a 6-3 loss June 6 in the sectional final.
The T-Birds, at state for the first time, also picked up a 12-2 win over Spencer in the semifinals. I-S (17-6) faced Laconia (12-11) June 14 in a state semifinal. The winner of that game will then play Cumberland (18-6) or Aquinas (19-10) at 12:05 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at Neuroscience Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.
I-S 6, Coleman 3
Coleman, which beat defending D3 state champion St. Mary Catholic 2-1 in eight innings in the other semifinal game, scored three runs in the top of the second inning and held that lead until the T-Birds tied the game in the fourth.
Jake Steeno singled, Gunnar Patz walked and Zach Manning reached on a fielder’s choice. Austin Tachick followed with a two-run single and later scored on a wild pickoff attempt.
Jayden Sivertson started the T-Birds’ rally with a leadoff walk in the fourth. Olson singled and Sivertson scored on Seth Korb’s single. The T-Birds cut the lead to 3-2 later in the inning before tying the game on a Justin Sivertson single.
Carter Kurki’s led off the I-S fifth with a double and Jayden Sivertson followed with a single. Sivertson stole second base and the throw ended up in the outfield. Both runners scored on another error on a throw to home plate and the T-Birds had the lead for good.
I-S added another run in the sixth on Justin Sivertson’s single.
Connor Kurki, a freshman, pitched the first four innings to get the win on the mound and his brother Carter, a sophomore, worked the last three to get the save.
“Carter did the same thing against Weyauwega last week,” coach Pete Timdal said. “They had their player of the year (Logan Bosquez) with the bases loaded and he threw it right by him. Same thing today, he threw strikes and we had good defense at the end. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Justin Sivertson had two hits and drove in a pair of runs.
The T-Birds had opened tournament play with wins over fifth-seeded Amherst and top-seeded Wittenberg-Birnamwood before winning a regional title with a 4-0 win over third-seeded Weyauwega-Fremont.
“We knew we were underdogs,” Timdal said. “It’s been that way since the regional started. We were underdogs even to make it to sectionals, much less make it to the sectional final. We’re not even supposed to compete with Coleman. I kept telling the kids that we wanted Coleman to win so we didn’t have to face the No. 1.
“We got great pitching and played good defense,” he added. “We were down three (runs), kept battling and it ended up in our favor. We have great senior leadership. We have a bunch of guys that don’t know they’re supposed to lose. They don’t understand that and that’s what’s great about our team. They don’t want to lose so they keep going at it. We have a nice balance of seniors and young guys that are still finding their way.”
Timdal is sure how much confidence his team has after beating Coleman after the Cougars had snapped St. Mary Catholic’s 49-game winning streak.
“I don’t know, we haven’t been there yet,” he said. “It’s nice to beat the top teams in the state. These guys know they can compete now. We just have to keep doing the same things. We have to get timely hits, keep fielding the ball and keep throwing strikes.”
I-S 12, Spencer 2 (6 inn.)
Korb held the Rockets to two hits over six innings.
Justin Sivertson had three of the T-Birds’ 13 hits, while Jayden Sivertson scored four runs and added two hits, three RBIs and three stolen bases. Carter Kurki, Connor Kurki and Nick Hansen also had two hits.
The T-Birds will rely on Korb and Connor Kurki on the mound, according to Timdal.
“I’m not calling one an ace and one the second guy because they’re both quality pitchers,” he said. “Things are coming together toward the end of the season. Our downfall has been timely hitting, but these last five games, things have been going in the right direction. We’re starting to get hot at the right time.
“We have a great group of kids,” he added. “They’re fun to be around and they all enjoy each other and that’s what makes baseball fun, when people are getting along and things are going right. We’re starting two freshmen and three sophomores. We’re just going to get better. We’ve had some trying times the last couple years. It feels great. I’ve been part of football teams that have made it to state, but this is different.”
Timdal said the T-Birds won’t change their preparation for their first state appearance.
“I don’t know if we’re going to do anything different,” he said. “We’re just going to keep doing the same things at practice. We’re going to have fun, work in the fundamentals and go from there.”