Eleva-Strum wins back-to-back regional titles, FC falls in finals, O-F in semis

Tri-County Area Prep Baseball Regional Tournament Review

Tri-County Area prep baseball teams took part in WIAA regional tournaments which took place from May 23-30 with bumps in the schedule along the way due to rainy weather.

It was Eleva-Strum who emerged as Division 4 regional tournament champions for the second straight season, overcoming challenges along the way. E-S, a No. 5 seed first dispatched No. 13 seeded Wisconsin Rapids Assumption at home May 23 by a 4-0 score. It was the final home game at Spangberg Field in Strum for seniors Alex Anderson, Jake Bjerke, Carter Gunderson, Tyler Webb, Brady Nichols, Jake Olson and Evan Christenson who have helped to build up the Cardinal program into a two-time Dairyland Conference and WIAA regional champion.

The Cardinals then knocked off the No. 4 seed and No. 6 ranked Dons of Marshfield Columbus (16-4), the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference champions, by a 2-1 score on Wednesday, May 29 after getting to Marshfield the day before and then going back when the regional semifinal was postponed due to rain. Despite striking out 12 times to two pitchers, the Cardinals were able to benefit from nine walks to go with their three hits to win the game after breaking a 11-1 tie in the sixth with a run. Then on Thursday, May 30, again on the road, the Cardinals upended No. 1 seeded and No. 4 ranked Bangor, handing the Cardinals (18-1) their first loss of the season 3-2 when they were unable to score a bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded.

Central (19-8), ranked No. 14, has been knocking down higher-ranked opponents all season and they'll get another chance on Tuesday when they take on No. 2 Pittsville in the WIAA Division 4 Blair-Taylor Sectional Tournament with the first pitch at 10 a.m. The No. 2 seeded Panthers (23-1) downed No. 10 ranked, three seed and Dairyland Conference co-champs Blair-Taylor (19-4) 8-3 in the regional finals in Pittsville. In the other semifinal to be played at 1 p.m., No. 12 ranked and No. 2 seed Royall (16-4) takes on No. 4 seed DeSoto (13-6).

Fall Creek (16-7) made it to the finals of its Division 3 regional tournament and Osseo-Fairchild the semifinals of the same tourney. FC's first win came against No. 14 seed Augusta (1-19) at home back on May 23. The Beavers' scored the game's first run when Nate Schroeder scored off Joe Shong's RBI-single. Their lead held up for two innings until the bottom of the second when the No. 3 seeded Crickets scored six times. then another five runs combined in the fourth and fifth winnings to win 11-1 in five. Jack Walden was the winning pitcher and FC's top batsmen were Ethan Westrate 2-for-4 with a double; Nathan Kurtz a double and Finley Wright a triple. AHS' lone run was scored by Nate Schroder. The Beavers had just four scattered hits and were hurt by three errors. C. Winsce and N. Atchinson also had hits for Augusta.

Fall Creek then took on No. 6 seed Whitehall (11-9) in the semifinals Tuesday, May 28 at home. FC blanked the Norse 3-0, getting the hits and runs they needed late in the ballgame. Walden was the winning pitcher and Kurtz got the save. Walden also hit a two-RBI double in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. Kurtz, Westrate and Wright also had hits.

The regional finals came on May 29 in Mondovi and the Crickets held onto a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning, their last run coming when Walden scored on a botched pick-off play. But from that inning onward the No. 2 seeded Buffaloes (15-8) scored 10 unanswered runs and won the regional title by an 11-3 score. Five errors proved to be the Crickets undoing along with 12 Mondovi hits, including a bases loaded RBI-single by Keegan Catt, another RBI-single from Konnor Johnson and an RBI-double from Hunter Sandberg. Despite the loss, FC can celebrate a lot with a winning record and WCC title after a two absence on the varsity level.

Osseo-Fairchild celebrated the fact they were able to get through a difficult season without some of their best players due to injury and play their best ball at the end.

"In 22 years of coaching I have never seen a team face so much adversity and have so many things go against them," O-F head coach Matt Korger stated on the team's Facebook page. "It was not the season I was expecting, but I'm proud of the effort and growth I saw in so many young players."

The Thunder (8-14) won its tournament opener 6-2 at Stanley-Boyd (8-12). It marked the third time the Thunder beat the Orioles this season and it was a No. 10 seed over a No. 7. Brogan Korger got the win on the mound and was 2-for-4 at the plate. Colton Williams also was 2-for-4 with a double and stole three bases. Brooks Koxlien also had two hits for OFHS. Unfortunately Mondovi showed why they were deserving of the regional tournament title as they downed the Thunder 7-1 in the semifinals played in Mondovi on May 28.


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