WAUPUN – Waupun Post 210 headed into the bottom of the seventh inning with a one-run lead over Plato (Minnesota).
However, relief pitcher Brayden Sanders gave up a single, back-to-back walks and then hit Korey Johnson that allowed Post 641 to tie the game to lead off the inning.
Waupun coach Derrick Standke gave Sanders a 30-pitch count and since he was at 26 after the hit-by-pitch, he replaced Sanders with Caden Bronkhorst with no outs and the bases loaded.
Before Bronkhorst threw his first pitch, Johnson – who was at first – yelled out to batter Ty Christensen, “He’s got all the pressure in the world.”
Johnson was referring to Bronkhorst. He was correct because three pitches later, Plato base runner Dane Schwirtz came home off a squeeze bunt by Christensen to win 5-4 in walk-off fashion at the American Legion Division II Central Plains Regional Tournament hosted at Gus Thompson Field.
While Waupun lost, Standke said his team stranding 13 baserunners throughout the game was most disappointing.
“It’s more demoralizing on not hitting the ball in clutch situations,” he said. “Thirteen runners left on base, that’s two an inning. That can’t happen.”
The fact that Waupun outhit Plato 9-6 frustrated Standke even more.
“We can’t leave runners on base,” Standke said. “We almost outhit them 2-1, but 13 runners left on base, and we walked guys and they didn’t. You can’t beat yourself at this level.”
Post 210 seemed out of sync ever since Plato’s No. 5 hitter Michael Waibel hit a three-run bomb that hit the trees in left field with two outs in the bottom of the first inning to go up 3-1.
“It gave them the momentum right away and we had to crawl back,” Standke said. “Guys got on with walks and one swing of the bat changes things.”
From there Waupun seemed in fighting mode. Post 210 answered back in the second inning. Sanders – who doubled to center field with one out – came home two batters later when Jaden White reached first base when the shortstop missed on a grounder to make it 3-2.
Waupun regained the lead in the fourth inning when it scored two runs. The first came with runners on first and second and Reece Homan – who went 2-for-3 at the plate – drove in a run with a single to center field. Keegan Hartgerink was walked to load the bases and Caleb Sauer was walked after that to bring in a run to make it 4-3 with two outs.
Waupun starting pitcher Vaughn Williston pitched 5⅓ innings before he was replaced by Sanders. He struck out five batters, but gave up four hits – including the home run – and five walks.
“Walks kill you,” said Standke of the seven total walks Waupun gave up. “It’s that simple. We walked guys and we didn’t have clutch hits.”
Even with the loss, Standke is still confident in Post 210 that they can win the tournament.
“(We) just have to get some clutch hits and not walk guys,” he said. “We can’t beat ourselves.”
PLATO 5, WAUPUN 4
Waupun 110 200 0 - 4 9 0
Plato 300 000 2 - 5 6 1
Pitching (ip-h-er-bb-k): W – Vaughn Williston (5.1-4-3-5-5), Brayden Sanders (L, 0.2-1-2-2-1), Caden Bronkhorst (0-1-0-0-0). P – Andrew Wraspir (5-7-3-4-4), Spencer Lilienthal (W, 2-2-0-1-1).
Leading hitters (two or more hits): W – Reece Homan 2x3, Brayden Sanders 2x4. 2B – Reece Homan. P –Ty Christensen 2x4. HR – Michael Waibel.