WESTON — Runs were at a premium at the WIAA Division 1 sectional at Simon Field on Tuesday.
The D.C. Everest pitching staff surrendered just three runs in two games, but were downed by Bay Port 2-1 in a WIAA sectional final, as its bid for a first state tournament berth since 2004 fell agonizingly short.
Bay Port also allowed just two runs in two games, defeating Pulaski 6-1 in a sectional semifinal earlier, while Everest defeated Ashwaubenon 5-1 in its sectional semifinal.
“Talk about going from an extreme high to low,” Everest coach Dave Langbehn said.
Josh Nielsen threw a complete game, two-hitter, struck out 13 batters — and lost.
Jared Hoekstra was efficient, needing just 83 pitches — 58 of them strikes — to toss a complete game four-hitter in the Evergreens win.
“Josh was phenomenal,” Langbehn said. “Jared was solid again, we knew with him going we were going to be in the ballgame. Josh was great, especially at the end of the year, striking out 35 in his last three starts.”
Everest trailed Bay Port 2-0 in the sixth inning, when Vince Callelo cut the lead in half with an RBI, plating Alex Tarras, who reached on a fielder’s choice earlier in the inning.
In the seventh the Evergreens had just two outs remaining to work with, when John Czurka laced a line drive to the gap in right field, but Pirates centerfielder Ryan Grabig cut the ball off, planted and gunned down Czurka, who tried to stretch the hit into a double.
“When I got to the ball rightfielder Lucas (Lindow), told me he was going (to second) and I just reached back and was able to gun him down,” Grabig said.
Bay Port took advantage of every opportunity scoring, with Grabig having a hand in that as well. Grabig singled, stole second and got to third on a throwing error and scored on a RBI groundout. In the fifth Drew Neuville tripled and scored on a groundout.
“Hats off to Bay Port,” Nielsen said. “We haven’t been to state in a long time and we thought we had a good shot. It was a team effort all day today, but we will be back.”
Bay Port is headed to state for the third time in four years.
“We got great pitching performances,” Bay Port coach Mike Simoans said. “We knew early that Nielsen was going to be tough. We just tried to scratch out a couple runs and luckily they held up.”
Against Ashwaubenon, the Evergreens played small-ball early, as a squeeze play produced two runs. With the bases loaded, Dzurka layed down the squeeze, but with no one paying attention, pinch runner Caleb Kell raced home right behind Collelo.
Wyatt Brown added a RBI triple in the fifth and that was plenty for Hoekstra.
Brown injured his left shoulder sliding into home moments later, momentarily separating the shoulder. Brown was unsure if he was going to be able to play game two, but the sophomore gutted it out.
“They said I subplexed my shoulder, it momentarily popped out, but it popped back in,” the leftfielder said. “I iced it and got it all taped up, and I was able to swing a bat so coach Langbehn made the decision I could play.”
Despite the disappointing ending, it was a memorable year for the Evergreens, who won just six games last season, and Langbehn has no doubts, the team will be in this position again.
“We have three young pitchers returning,” Langbehn said, as Nielsen, Zach Thut and Dzurka all will be back. “No one expected us to be here, but we knew we could get here and we know we can get back.”
WP–Jared Hoekstra. LP–Brett Nohr. 2B–A, Cole Hanson. 3B–DCE, Wyatt Brown.
WP–Jack Violetta. LP–Josh Nielsen. 2B–DCE, Caleb Kell. 3B–BP, Drew Neuville.
Records: Bay Port 23-6; D.C. Everest 17-8; Ashwaubenon 15-12.