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Columbus Catholic catcher Cole Timmler tags out Bangor's Eli Tucker during the sixth inning of a Division 4 semifinal at the WIAA State Baseball Tournament in Appleton on Wednesday. Bangor held on for a 9-8 win. (Photo by Paul Lecker/Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker

Zaleski Sports

APPLETON – What started as a pitchers’ duel ended up a slugfest, and unfortunately for the Marshfield Columbus Catholic baseball team, it ended up on the wrong end.

Bangor scored seven times in the top of the seventh inning and held off a rally from the Dons in the bottom of the inning to win 9-8 in a Division 4 semifinal at the 2022 WIAA State Baseball Tournament at Fox Cities Stadium.

Bangor (22-5) moves into the Division 4 championship game against Eau Claire Regis (22-1) which is scheduled to be played Thursday at 9 a.m. Regis trailed Oakfield 4-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning before erupting for an 11-run frame to end the game via the 10-run rule.

Columbus Catholic, making its first-ever state tournament appearance, finishes its magical season with a 20-4 record.

“The first time in school history (making it to state), you can not thank these guys enough,” Columbus Catholic coach Jared Krasselt said. “The support staff, the faculty, the boosters, everybody involved have just been incredible. We’re very, very blessed and thankful for this opportunity and hopefully it won’t be a long stay away.”

The game was scoreless through 4½ innings as starting pitchers Ashton Michek of Bangor and Emmitt Konieczny of Columbus Catholic were sharp.

Konieczny escaped trouble in the fourth and fifth innings, while the Dons had runners in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings, but left seven runners on base as the game remained scoreless.

Columbus Catholic finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Blake Jakobi and Brock Bennington walked, moved up to second and third on a double steal, and both scored on a hard-hit single up the middle by Cole Timmler to put the Dons up 2-0.

Timmler stole third but was stranded as Michek wiggled out of further trouble.

Bangor returned the favor in the sixth. The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out before Will Reader delivered a chopper that end over Cy Becker’s head at third base into left field to score two and tie the game. Dawson Daines followed with another single, but Bennington in center field threw out Eli Tucker at the plate.

Columbus Catholic regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth as Michek left after five innings with 11 strikeouts.

Konieczny singled with one out and after another groundout, Bennington smoked a liner down the third base line that reached the wall, allowed Konieczny to score and Bennington to reach third with a triple.

Timmler’s liner to center field was caught to end the inning and the Dons took a 3-2 lead into the seventh.

Jakobi relieved Konieczny and got the first batter to fly out, but an error, walk and another error allowed the tying run to score for the Cardinals.

Bangor didn’t let up. Following a hit batter, Chase Horstman had a two-run single, Tucker and Daines had RBI singles, and Evan Wolfe drove in two more with another hit to give the Cardinals a 9-3 lead.

Columbus wasn’t about to give up, however.

“You give up seven runs in the seventh inning and everyone of them looked at me when they came in believing we can win this game,” Krasselt said.

Consecutive hits by Xane Adler, Becker and Grant Olson plated one run to ignite the rally.

Following a strikeout, Nathan Nemitz walked to load the bases. Horstman earned another strikeout before the Dons made it interesting.

Jakobi walked to force in a run and Bennington was hit by a pitch to plate another. Timmler hit a soft liner to right for his third hit of the game and drove in two more, bringing Columbus to within a run at 9-8.

Adler came up again and hit another liner to right, but this time Bangor outfielder Samuel Cropp made a sliding catch to save the victory for the Cardinals.

“I said if we can get to Brock Bennington (in the seventh), we’re going to be alright,” Krasselt said. “We got to him, got to Cole Timmler, and Xane Adler put a great swing on the ball and the kid made a great play. If he misses that ball, game over.”

Cardinals 9, Dons 8

Bangor 000 002 7 - 9 11 4

Columbus Catholic 000 021 5 - 8 9 2

WP: Chase Horstman. LP: Blake Jakobi.

SO: Ashton Michek (5 inn.) 11, Horstman (2 inn.) 2; Emmitt Konieczny (6 inn.) 3, Jakobi (2/3 inn.) 0, Cy Becker (1/3 inn.) 1. BB: Michek 3, Horstman 2; Konieczny 5, Jakobi 2, Becker 0.

Top hitters: B, Evan Wolfe 2x4, 2 RBI; Michek 1x3, 2 runs; Horstman 2x4, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Will Reader 2x3, 2 RBI; Dawson Daines 2x4, RBI. CC, Jakobi 1x3, 2 runs, RBI; Brock Bennington 3B, 2 RBI; Cole Timmler 3x4, 4 RBI.

Records: Bangor 22-5; Columbus Catholic 20-4.