Jack Donahue puts in gritty performance as Blue Devils win first state tourney game
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — As the host team, the Marshfield Clinic Post 54 Blue Devils wanted to get out to a good start in the Wisconsin Class AAA American Legion Baseball State Tournament.
Thanks to the pitching of Jack Donahue and the ability to manufacture a run when it needed it, Marshfield did that, scratching out a 5-4 win over Sheboygan on Tuesday night at Jack Hackman Field.
The Blue Devils (23-7) will take on Eau Claire (27-7) in a winners’ bracket game at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the double-elimination tournament. Marshfield beat Eau Claire in two out of three matchups this season.
Donahue was roughed up in the first inning, giving up four-straight hits to start the game. Dylan Agard’s double with the bases loaded scored a pair to put Sheboygan up 2-0 in the early going. Donahue was able to wiggle out of the inning and settled in nicely after that.
Donahue allowed just two hits in the next five innings, retiring 12 batters in a row at one point, seven via strikeout.
“I was throwing too much down the middle, not hitting my corners,” Donahue said. “I started hitting the corners better and started pitching better.”
Marshfield returned the favor, scoring twice in the bottom of the first against Sheboygan starter Weston Jurk. Trevor Schwecke and Mitch Susa had RBI singles in the frame to tie the game.
The Blue Devils added another in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Hunter Luepke and Schwecke and went up 4-2 when Bobby Pilz knocked in Susa on a fielder’s choice bouncer as Susa beat the high throw home from the Sheboygan shortstop.
The lead held until the seventh when Sheboygan scored twice. An error led to one run, and Eric Schoemer had an RBI single to tie the game.
Donahue quickly retired the next two batters and was unfazed, setting down the final six in order of the last two innings, seemingly throwing as hard in the ninth inning as he did in the first.
“I felt good,” Donahue said. “There was a lot of adrenaline too. You score that one run, you want to finish off the game.”
Marshfield leadoff hitter Nate McDonald, who was 0-for-4 heading into the ninth, smacked a single to left field to start the inning and went to work on the bases. McDonald stole second and moved to third as the throw was high and went into center field. After a strikeout, Schwecke hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate McDonald with what proved to be the winning run.
“We go the way Nate goes, and it’s been that way all season,” Marshfield manager Tom Sorenson said. “If he gets on base, we score a run. That’s the way it is.”
Donahue struck out the first two hitters of the ninth and got a groundout to finish off the win. He finished with 13 strikeouts and just one walk.
“He (Donahue) was really tough after that (first inning),” Sorenson said. “I can’t say enough about him. He works so hard and is hard to get off the mound. I planned on not even letting him start the ninth, but when we got the lead, I looked at him, and he said, ‘I’m ready.’ I couldn’t say no. He’s got all the guts in the world.”
Schwecke ended up with two hits and three RBIs, and Luepke continued his hot hitting of late with a 3-for-5 night and two runs scored for the Blue Devils.
Sheboygan (19-19) moves into the losers’ bracket and will take on Wausau (18-18) in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Marshfield 5, Sheboygan 4
Sheboygan Post 83 200 000 200 – 4 8 2
Marshfield Post 54 200 110 01x – 5 9 1
WP: Jack Donahue. LP: Dylan Callahan.
SO: Weston Jurk (4 1/3 inn.) 1, Callahan (3 2/3 inn.) 5; Donahue 13. BB: Jurk 5, Callahan 0; Donahue 1.
Top hitters: S, Dylan Lindow 2×5; Eric Schomer 2×4; Callahan 2×4; Dylan Agard 2B, 2 RBIs. M, Hunter Luepke 3×5, 2 runs; Trevor Schwecke 2×4, 2B, 3 RBIs.
Records: Sheboygan 19-19; Marshfield 23-7.
2016 Wisconsin American Legion Class AAA State Tournament
July 26-30, at Jack Hackman Field, Marshfield
Tuesday, July 26
Game 1 – Beloit (27-5) 14, Neenah (13-7) 2 (8 inn.)
Game 2 – Eau Claire (27-7) 10, Wausau (18-18) 0 (7 inn.)
Game 3 – Madison Impact (29-3) 5, De Pere (21-9) 2
Game 4 – Marshfield (23-7) 5, Sheboygan (19-19) 4
Wednesday, July 27
Game 5 – Neenah (13-7) vs. De Pere (21-9), 9:30 a.m.
Game 6 – Wausau (18-18) vs. Sheboygan (19-19), 12:30 p.m.
Game 7 – Beloit (27-5) vs. Madison Impact (29-3), 4 p.m.
Game 8 – Eau Claire (27-7) vs. Marshfield (23-7), 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 28
Game 9 – Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 12:30 p.m.
Game 10 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 3:30 p.m.
Game 11 – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m.
Friday, July 29
Game 12 – Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 4 p.m.
Game 13 – Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 30
Championship round: Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 1 p.m. (If Game 12 winner wins first game, two teams will play again at 4 p.m.)