Blue Devils win championship round opener, commit seven errors in second game loss
By Paul Lecker
STEVENS POINT — A flood of physical and mental errors proved costly for the Marshfield Clinic Post 54 Senior American Legion baseball team on Friday in the Class AAA regional championship against defending state champ Plover.
Jake Brueggen allowed just one run in eight innings to pick up the win in a 7-1 victory for Marshfield in the first game at Bukolt Park on Friday to keep its season alive and set up a do-or-die matchup.
In the final game, however, Marshfield committed seven errors, including four in a costly four-run seventh inning that sent Plover to an 8-3 win and the regional title.
Plover (23-10) moves on to the Class AAA Wisconsin State American Legion Baseball Tournament in Watertown, which starts Tuesday. Marshfield ends its season with a 24-8 record, including a 2-4 mark against the Black Sox this summer.
“We got what we wanted out of pitchers,” Marshfield coach John Southworth said. “You couldn’t have had better pitching in both games. The second game we have seven errors, and we didn’t do that all year. The bad thing about it was they weren’t tough plays, just missing routine plays. They’re (Plover) a good team anyway, and if you commit seven errors, put seven extra guys on, you can’t expect to beat a team like that.”
Marshfield struck first in Game 2 as Nathan Dupee led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, stole second, moved to third on a fly out, and scored on an error.
Jameson Kryshak had a two-run single in the second to put Plover up 2-1 against Marshfield starting pitcher Jeremy Binder.
Jack Donahue had an RBI single to score Trevor Schwecke to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning before Plover surged ahead again.
Alex Slowey, who belted two home runs against Marshfield on Thursday, ripped another one to lead off the fourth, and a pair of errors led to a run in the fifth to give the Black Sox a 4-2 lead.
Marshfield got one back in the bottom of the fifth when Mitch Susa was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a wild pitch. As it turned out, that would be the Blue Devils’ last run of the season.
Two errors and a walk loaded the bases for Plover in the seventh. A dropped fly ball allowed the first of four runs to score. D.J. Drohner followed with an RBI single, Matt McHugh walked with the bases loaded, and a bad throw back to the pitcher following a pitch gave the Black Sox another run to make it 8-3.
Cal Geise, who threw a nine-inning complete game on Thursday in an 8-6 win over Marshfield, came in to throw the final six innings to save it for starter Alex Lee. Geise struck out four and allowed just one base runner in his three innings of work.
“The last two years we’ve been really good,” Southworth said. “This region does very good in the state tournament (winning state four of the past eight years). Last year the top two teams in the state — and it wasn’t even that close — were teams (Plover and Marshfield) from this region. I’m willing to bet that Plover and ourselves are two of the best eight teams in the state this year, but we’re 30 miles apart, and we play each other (in the regional).”
In the opener Marshfield needed a win to keep its season alive, and it turned to Brueggen. The stout left-hander was magnificent, using an array of off-speed pitches to keep the big-hitting Black Sox at bay.
Brueggen allowed six hits and three walks over eight-plus innings before Bobby Pilz entered in the ninth. Plover scored its only run of the game on a groundout, but Pilz was able to strike out the final two batters to send Marshfield into the second game of the championship round.
“It’s just being able to throw the ball where they can’t hit,” Brueggen said. “Throw it outside. They’ve been on a roll, so I had to spot it. They’re a good hitting team.”
Nolan Matson had three hits, including a triple, and three RBIs, and Dupee, Sam Neville, and Susa each had two hits in the win.
Matson’s triple came with two on and two out in the top of the ninth. Schwecke followed with an RBI single to give the Blue Devils’ three much-needed insurance runs.
“Jake stepped up, threw strikes, and it was a totally different scenario where we caught everything,” Southworth said. “We played good defense (no errors) in the first game, and you see the results.”
Marshfield’s 24-8 record ties the team record for winning percentage in a season (.750), which was set in 2003 when the Blue Devils finished 30-10. This season with fifth-straight year Marshfield had 20 or more wins.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Class AAA American Legion Baseball Regional Championship Round
Blue Devils 7, Black Sox 1
Marshfield 200 100 103 – 7 11 0
Plover 000 000 001 – 1 7 0
WP: Jake Brueggen. LP: Alex Slowey.
SO: Brueggen (8 inn.) 1, Bobby Pilz (1 inn.) 2; Slowey (6 1/3 inn.) 4, Nick Schroeder (2 1/3 inn.) 0, Kevin Jastromski (1/3 inn.) 0. BB: Brueggen 3, Pilz 1; Slowey 3, Schroeder 1, Jastromski 0.
Top hitters: M, Nathan Dupee 2×5, 2B, 2 runs; Sam Neville 2×4; Mitch Susa 2×5; Shane Coker 2 runs; Nolan Matson 3×4, 3B, 3 RBIs; Jack Donahue 2B. P, Cal Geise 2B; D.J. Drohner 2×3.
Black Sox 8, Blue Devils 3
Plover 020 110 400 – 8 9 1
Marshfield 110 010 000 – 3 7 7
WP: Alex Lee. LP: Jeremy Binder. SV: Cal Geise.
SO: Lee (5 inn.) 3, Nick Schroeder (1 inn.) 1, Geise (3 inn.) 4; Binder (4 1/3 inn.) 2, Shane Coker (1 2/3 inn.) 0, Bobby Pilz (3 inn.) 1. BB: Lee 2, Schroeder 0, Geise 0; Binder 1, Coker 3, Pilz 1.
Top hitters: P, Jon Barnes 2 runs; Geise 2×4; Alex Slowey 2×4, HR, 3 runs. M, Trevor Schwecke 2×4, 2B; Nate McDonald 2×4.
Records: Plover 23-10; Marshfield 24-8.
2015 Class AAA American Legion Baseball Regional
July 21-24, at Bukolt Park, Stevens Point
Tuesday, July 21
Plover 14, D.C. Everest 4
Marshfield 17, Wisconsin Rapids 2
Stevens Point 5, Wausau 4
Wednesday, July 22
D.C. Everest 5, Wisconsin Rapids 4 (10 inn.)
Plover 8, Wausau 7 (11 inn.)
Marshfield 13, Stevens Point 5
Thursday, July 23
D.C. Everest 11, Stevens Point 10
Plover 8, Marshfield 6
Marshfield 18, D.C. Everest 0
Friday, July 24: Championship Round
Marshfield 7, Plover 1
Plover 8, Marshfield 3 (Plover advances to Class AAA state tournament at Watertown on July 28-31)