By Paul Lecker
PLOVER – If there is a lesson to be learned when playing the Plover American Legion baseball team, it is don’t make mistakes in the field or you will pay.
Much like the Black Sox did in last week’s regional tournament, errors by their opponents lead to runs on the scoreboard.
Plover took advantage of four Racine errors in the first inning to score three times and went on to a 10-2 rout in an opening round game of the 2021 Wisconsin Class AAA State American Legion Baseball Tournament on Tuesday night at Veterans Memorial Park.
Plover (19-8) will take on Superior (21-5) in a winners’ bracket game at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the double-elimination tournament that will run through Saturday. Racine (18-4) slides into the losers’ bracket and will play Manitowoc (13-6) at 1 p.m. in an elimination game.
In Plover’s half of the first inning, Tommy Drohner reached on a one-out error and scored on a double by Austin Beyer. Beyer would go to third on a wild throw home and score on a sacrifice fly by Thomas Hunt.
Kenny Schultz and Marcus Jaworski both got on base on back-to-back Racine errors and the Black Sox made them pay again when Jon Nafe stroked a single to make it 3-0.
“We had batting practice yesterday, and we had a better approach and hit the balls a lot harder than we had been,” Plover manager Wayne Sankey said. “Capitalizing on their mistakes was big, and adding on late in the game was big, too.”
That was enough for Plover starter Jake Sankey, who allowed two runs in the third inning but only four other basesrunners the entire game. He struck out four and walked one, scattering five hits in the complete-game win.
“Jake was on and he usually gets stronger as he goes,” Wayne Sankey said. “Anytime you get seven innings out of a guy in the first game of a tournament, that’s nice. It’s a nice job he did tonight.”
Plover added a run in the second as Brycen Cashin singled with one out, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
After Racine scored twice in the third on RBI singles by Ian Rognerud and Kody Kreckling to cut Plover’s lead in half, the Black Sox broke the game open with a four-run fifth.
Beyer led off with a home run to straight-away centerfield. Hunt followed with a double, Jaworski walked with one out and Nafe smacked a double to the left-center field gap to plate two. After a groundout, Cyle Zblewski singled to drive in Nafe and put Plover on top 8-2.
Plover added two more runs in the sixth on an RBI single from Beyer and a sac fly by Nafe.
Nafe finished with two hits and four RBIs, and Beyer was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and