WAUPUN — An inch or two to one side or the other and perhaps Carson Bresser wouldn’t have made the play.
It could have been bad, too — with runners on second and third and nobody out in the top of the fifth inning, the three-run lead that the Waupun American Legion Post 210 varsity baseball team had amassed to that point against Green Lake Post 306 was in peril.
But Bresser made the play, and in so snaring a hard-hit comebacker to the mound then firing home for a 1-2 fielder’s choice, the right-handed relief pitcher pulled the pin on the fire extinguisher.
Bresser worked out of that jam with no damage done and Post 210 would add four more runs in the sixth to make for what ended up being a rather comfortable 8-1 victory in its opening game at the Class-A regional tournament it’s hosting this weekend at Gus Thompson Field.
“It was a nice heads-up play he had,” Waupun coach Derrick Standke said. “That’s what we always teach — you’ve got so much time when you’re on the mound on a comebacker, so always check the runners first and he saw that (the runner from third) was too far off.
If Bresser doesn’t make that play? Well, it might not have meant anything in the end — there’s no telling — but it certainly would have made things far more interesting.
“You’re probably making some pitching decisions you don’t want to make,” Standke said of not having to call on some of his more dangerous arms to put out the fire. “But he made a nice play, and we got the four-spot (in the sixth).
“We haven’t played for a while — I mean, we played Tuesday, but everyone kind of played a little bit here and there. So just getting back in the flow of things is where we are today.”
Defending state champion Waupun (17-2), the third-ranked team in the state in Class A, will face Mayville Post 69 tonight after Post 69 defeated Fox Lake Post 521 in its opener earlier on Friday.
And Post 210 will have a good bit of momentum headed into the game after getting good pitching and at-bats in the win over Green Lake.
Post 210 starting pitcher Cole Hicken, who went 4-plus innings and allowed only one run while scattering six hits and a pair of walks and striking out six, was able to limit the damage after loading the bases with two outs in both the first and second innings.
In the first, he got a groundout to keep the game scoreless and then after Waupun scored a run in the bottom half on Reece Homan’s RBI triple, Hicken was able to get a flyout to keep the game knotted at 1.
“Cole isn’t a guy who’s gotten a lot of starts for us — that was probably his second or third start — but he’s somebody who I felt was going to throw strikes,” Standke said. “And he did for the first two outs (in the first two innings), then they found some hits — some bloopers and some dunks.
“But he battled. He did exactly what we needed to do.”
Waupun took the lead for good in the third on a pair of errors, the second of which allowed Baron Buchholz to score.
And Post 210 tacked on two more runs an inning later when Caleb Sauer scored on an error and Noah Gerrittson — who reached on the same error Sauer scored on — came home on Jaden White’s RBI single.
Gerrittson and Jarrett Buchholz had RBI singles to plate the first two runs in the big sixth inning for Waupun and then Baron Buchholz delivered a two-run double to make it 8-1.
And Post 210 could have had several more runs if not for a handful of bad-luck outs on smashes to the outfield.
“There were a lot of encouraging things that I saw tonight,” Standke said.
Chief among them? He saw his team win after a rocky first couple of innings and then that precarious comebacker to Bresser.
“Survive and advance,” Standke said. “That’s playoff time.”
WAUPUN 8, GREEN LAKE 1
Green Lake 010 000 0 — 1 7 3
Waupun 101 204 x — 8 9 2
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-k): GL — Bennett Bartol (L, 6-9-6-1-6). Waup — Cole Hicken (W, 4+-6-1-2-6), Carson Bresser (2+-1-0-1-4), Ian VanWyk (1-0-0-0-0).
Leading hitters (two or more hits): GL — Bloom 3x4. 2B: Tyler Bloom 2. Waup — Caleb Sauer 2x3, Brayden Sanders 2x3. 3B: Reece Homan. 2B: Baron Buchholz, Sauer.