GRAND CHUTE — The Coleman baseball team has been walking around with laminated four-leaf clovers in their pockets for the past week.
With the way the Cougars are playing, they don’t need any luck.
Coleman beat Pittsville 10-3 in a WIAA Division 4 state semifinal at Fox Cities Stadium on Wednesday morning, and in the process won its 28th straight game.
It will play Johnson Creek in the championship at 9 a.m. Thursday.
None of Coleman’s previous |27 wins this season, or any victory since the program started 20 years ago for that matter, was bigger than this one.
The Cougars (28-1) finally won a game at state in their third trip after losing in the semifinal round in 1997 and 2011.
For a school known mostly for its wrestling team, it is showing it has a pretty good baseball team, too.
“I think it was getting over that hurdle,” Coleman coach Kent Casper said. “Now, being in a state championship game, I think the boys will relax. Just as we just talked about, I said, ‘A lot of you boys have won state championships (in wrestling).’
“They know what it takes. They are going to be ready.”
As will Coleman’s offense.
The Cougars pounded out 13 hits against Pittsville (18-7), including four runs in the second inning that gave them a 5-0 lead.
When the Panthers cut the lead to 5-3 after four innings, the Cougars scored five more runs on seven hits in the sixth to pull away. It included a two-run single from Mitch Mergener, who drove in his brothers, Mike and Mason.
Mason Mergener led Coleman at the plate, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Leadoff hitter Mitch Champagne went 2-for-4, including an RBI triple, while first baseman Trevor Bushmaker also went 2-for-4.
Every regular in the lineup had at least one hit, except for cleanup hitter Jake Engels. The catcher still reached base on two walks, while also scoring a run and adding an RBI.
Coleman has scored 10 or more runs 15 times this season, and is averaging 7.0 runs the last six games.
“(The offense is) a lot better than our defense, and I like to think that we have a good defense,” Mason Mergener said. “It’s unbelievable, 13 hits is crazy.”
While Mason led the way offensively, he also got a start on the mound for the second straight season at state.
He allowed two earned runs on five hits, and although he also walked five, he kept Pittsville in check during his five innings.
With Coleman leading by seven runs entering the sixth, Casper decided to take out his starting pitcher to give the team the option of using him for two more innings in the championship game.
“If they need me to, I guess I could,” Mason said. “But Mitch, Trev and Derek (Marquardt), we have a full team of pitchers. If I do, I do. If I don’t, I’m sure the other guys have it.”
Marquardt will get the start against Johnson Creek, but Mason will be there if needed. As will a good luck charm in the back of their pockets.
“That was done by my nephews,” Casper said. “They put the time in and ended up doing it. Last week when we went to sectionals, they stood on the bus and handed it to everybody.”