It was a classic example of an exercise in patience.
Booker Bredlau got it all started in the second inning when he showed he was willing to take a walk if there wasn’t a pitch to his liking.
The next two Greenwood batters — James Hlavac and Blake Sterland — worked the count, waiting for the ideal pitch to take the bat off their respective shoulders.
“The one word was ‘patience.'” Greenwood coach Kent Hinker said.
Wausaukee starter Beau DeLaet never was able to find the strike zone and Greenwood eventually scored eigtht times in the second inning to stroll to an 11-1 win over the Rangers in a WIAA Division 4 state semifinal at Fox Cities Stadium on Wednesday.
Greenwood will be in search of its third state championship — and first since 1990 — when its meets Lake Country Lutheran, a 12-0 winner over Potosi in six innings, at 9 a.m. today.
“The last couple games we’ve been taking a lot of strikes, and it’s been working for us,” senior outfielder Alexander Volovsek said. “We knew we had to come in swinging the bats hard, and we have been since the playoffs started.
“It’s all coming together right now.”
The emphasis on having discipline at the plate actually came about in a couple losses Greenwood suffered over the course of the regular season.
Greenwood players and coaches witnessed how much of a difference taking some pitches, even if they might be strikes, can be in the grand scheme of an at-bat.
” Early in the year we were swinging at a lot of bad pitches. We really preached about swinging at good pitches and having quality at-bats,” Hinker said.
“It’s about waiting for your pitch and when you get it hitting it hard, and making the pitcher work.”
And the more Greenwood kept its collective bats on its shoulders, it seemed the strike zone became tougher to find for DeLaet.
When he did find the strike zone, Greenwood made DeLaet pay.
First, Volovsek showed how dangerous Greenwood can be, when given a pitch to hit lining a two-run single up the middle with the bases loaded to make it 2-0 and open the floodgates.
Greenwood has made its hits count throughout the postseason, including in a sectional semifinal win over Spring Valley when Greenwood needed just three hits to put up 11 runs.
This time Greenwood needed only six hits to score 11 runs.
“I thought the biggest hit was the one by Alex. That was enormous to score two runs because who knows if we don’t score and we walk out of there with nothing,” Hinker said. “That gave us a quick jump start and the kids were able to be a lot more relaxed.”
DeLaet’s inability to throw strikes made sure that probably wasn’t going to happen.
The junior right-hander walked six batters in the second inning and three of those came with the bases loaded to force home runs.
Bredlau finished what he started by unloading a bases-clearing triple over the head of Rangers’ centerfielder Eddy Self to close out an eight-run uprising that all but sealed a spot in today’s championship game.
Wausaukee pitchers had not surrendered a run through four playoff games entering the state semifinal.
“Our goal coming in was to show those guys how we can hit and what we are made of,” Bredlau said. “You always like to see the first pitch and then go hard after it when we get a pitch to hit.
“We have three strikes, so we might as well use them.”
In addition to swinging a hot bat, Bredlau flashed some leather with a diving catch in leftfield to keep Wausaukee from entertaining any thoughts of getting a rally started in the top of the third inning.
Hlavac, who came on in relief of starter Westin Wuethrich to open the second inning, wasn’t complaining after doing his part to contribute to the win.
Nor was he surprised.
“Our team defense is reliable. We (pitchers) just have to throw the ball down the middle and they will help with the rest,” said Hlavac, who was charged with one earned run on four hits over four innings, while walking one and striking out four.
Division 4 Semifinal
WP – James Hlavac 1BB, 4K, Westin Wuethrich 1BB, 2K. LP – Beau DeLaet 6BB, 1K, Cole Lewandowski 2BB, 2K, Aaron Schies 1BB, 2K. 3B – Greenwood, Booker Bredlau. 2B – Greenwood, Alexander Volovsek; Wausaukee, Dillon Meyers.
Records: Greenwood 15-3; Wausaukee 15-7.