By Paul Lecker
PLOVER – Walks and errors doomed the Plover Black Sox on Thursday night as they dropped a 7-5 decision to La Crosse in a winners’ bracket game at the 2021 Class AAA Wisconsin American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Veterans Memorial Park.
La Crosse scored three times in the third inning without a hit, and plated four runs in the fifth with just two hits as it defeated Plover 7-5 to remain undefeated in the double-elimination tournament and secure a spot in next week’s Central Plains Regional in South Dakota.
Earlier Thursday, Mason Stecker threw a no-hitter, the first at the state tournament since 2005, as De Pere blanked Manitowoc 10-0, and Oshkosh scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Superior 6-5 and stay alive in the tournament.
Plover (20-9) will take on De Pere (16-7) at 3 p.m. and Oshkosh (22-2) will play La Crosse (16-5) at 7 p.m. on Friday. La Crosse, as the last undefeated team, is secured no worse than second place and a berth in the national regional tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., from Aug. 4-8. The top two teams at the state tournament move on to the regional.
Plover took a quick 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Austin Beyer in the bottom of the first inning.
La Crosse took advantage of some mistakes by the Black Sox in the third to pull ahead for good.
Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases against Plover starter Marcus Jaworski. After a strikeout, Hunter Hess walked to force in a run and tie the game, and a Plover error allowed two runs to score to put La Crosse up 3-1.
The Black Sox got an RBI double form Kaleb Mayer to score Lucca Weinkauf in the fourth only to see La Crosse respond in the fifth with four runs.
Jaworski walked the first two batters and was pulled from the game. Cyle Zblewski entered a struck out the first batter before allowing a single to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Kale Keppel plated one run, Dylan Lapic followed with a two-run double to the right-center field gap, and he came in to score on another Plover error, pushing La Crosse’s lead to 7-2.
Plover made a game of it in the sixth. Weinkauf led off with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Sankey, and La Crosse reliever Adam Olson entered and forced in two runs with a walk and hit batter with the bases load.
Plover left the bases loaded, however, and went down in order in the seventh to send La Crosse to the regional.
La Crosse 7, Plover 5
Plover 100 103 0 - 5 6 3
La Crosse 003 040 x - 7 5 1
WP: Brandon Stadtler. LP: Marcus Jaworski.
SO: Jaworski (4 inn.) 5, Cyle Zblewski (2 inn.) 0; Stadtler (5 2/3 inn.) 4, Adam Olson (1 1/3 inn.) 3. BB: Jaworski 5; Zblewski 0; Stadtler 5, Olson 1.
Top hitters: P, Brycen Cashin 1x2, 2 runs; Thomas Hunt 1x3, RBI; Jon Nafe 1x3, RBI; Lucca Weinkauf 1x3, 2B, 2 runs; Kaleb Mayer 1x3, 2B, run, RBI. LC, Stadtler 2 runs; Drew Wonderling 2x3, run; Dylan Lapic 1x3, 2B, run, 2 RBIs.
Records: Plover 20-9; La Crosse 16-5.
2021 Class AAA Wisconsin American Legion Baseball State Tournament
July 27-31, at Veterans Memorial Park, Plover
Tuesday, July 27
Game 1 –La Crosse (14-5) 4, Oshkosh (20-2) 3
Game 2 – Superior (21-5) 4, Manitowoc (13-6) 3
Game 3 – De Pere (15-6) 6, Stevens Point (13-10) 2
Game 4 –Plover (19-8) 10, Racine Norsemen (18-4) 2
Wednesday, July 28
Game 5 – Oshkosh (21-2) 8, Stevens Point (13-11) 0, Stevens Point eliminated
Game 6 – Manitowoc (14-6) 9, Racine (18-5) 5, Racine eliminated
Game 7 – La Crosse (15-5) 6, De Pere (15-7) 2
Game 8 – Plover (20-8) 3, Superior (21-6) 1
Thursday, July 29
Game 9 – De Pere (16-7) 10, Manitowoc (14-7) 0
Game 10 – Oshkosh (22-2) 6, Superior (21-7) 5
Game 11 – La Crosse (16-5) 7, Plover (20-9) 5
Friday, July 30
Game 12 – Plover (20-9) vs. De Pere (16-7), 3 p.m.
Game 13 – Oshkosh (22-2) vs. La Crosse (16-5), 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 31
Game 14 – Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 3 p.m.
Game 15 – Game 14 winner vs. Game 14 loser, if necessary, 7 p.m.
*Note: If three teams remain after Game 13 (if Oshkosh defeats La Crosse), La Crosse draws bye into Game 14 as last remaining undefeated team.