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Plover's Austin Beyer celebrates with manager Wayne Sankey after smacking a home run to lead off the fifth inning and the Black Sox went on to a 10-2 win over Racine in an opening-round game at the Wisconsin Class AAA State American Legion Baseball Tournament on Tuesday at Memorial Park in Plover. (Photo by Paul Lecker/Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker

Zaleski Sports

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 pitcher Jake Sankey threw a complete-game five-hitter with four strikeouts to defeat Racine 10-2 in an opening-round game in the Wisconsin Class AAA State American Legion Baseball Tournament on Tuesday at Memorial Park in Plover. (Photo by Paul Lecker/Zaleski Sports)

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 three runs scored to pace the Plover offense, which had 11 hits in all.

In other games Tuesday, La Crosse edged Oshkosh 4-3, Superior defeated Manitowoc 4-3, and De Pere took care of Stevens Point 6-2. Stevens Point (13-2) will play Oshkosh (20-2) in a losers’ bracket game at 10 a.m. The other winners’ bracket game will pit De Pere (15-6) against La Crosse (14-5) at 4 p.m. All games will be live on zaleskisports.com.

Black Sox 10, Norsemen 2

Racine 002 000 0 - 2 5 5

Plover 310 042 x - 10 11 2

WP: Jake Sankey. LP: Caydin Paulick.

SO: Paulick (4 2/3 inn.) 1, Alex Hoff (1 2/3 inn.) 0; Sankey 4. BB: Paulick 3, Hoff 1; Sankey 1.

Top hitters: R, Logan Marino 2x4, run; Ian Rognerud 1x3, RBI; Kody Kreckling 1x3, RBI. P, Tommy Drohner 1x4, 2 runs; Austin Beyer 3x4, 2B, HR, 3 runs, 3 RBIs; Thomas Hunt 2B, RBI; Jon Nafe 2x3, 2B, 4 RBIs.

Records: Racine 18-4; Plover 19-8.

2021 Class AAA Wisconsin American Legion Baseball 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 (18-4) 2

Wednesday, July 28

Game 5 – Oshkosh (20-2) vs. Stevens Point (13-10), 10 a.m.

Game 6 – Manitowoc (13-6) vs. Racine (18-4), 1 p.m.

Game 7 – La Crosse (14-5) vs. De Pere (15-6), 4 p.m.

Game 8 – Superior (21-5) vs. Plover (19-8), 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 29

Game 9 – Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 1 p.m.

Game 10 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 4 p.m.

Game 11 – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m.

Friday, July 30

Game 12 – Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 3 p.m.

Game 13 – Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 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: Games 12 and 13 will not match previous opponents unless necessary; If three teams remain after Game 13, winner of Game 11 draws bye into Game 14 (Winner game 12 vs. Winner Game 13)

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