The Oshkosh West Wildcats baseball team had been sputtering for most of the season going into last week.
But they found the right pick-me-up before the WIAA tournament started — a win over rival Oshkosh North.
And come to find out, they’d get another shot at them a week later in the tournament.
The Wildcats would use that advantage Wednesday to score another victory over the Spartans 4-1 in a WIAA Division 1 regional game at E.J. Schneider Field.
“That gave us a ton of confidence,” West’s Nick Carmanidis said about last week’s game. “Just knowing that we had them once and we could get them again really rode into this game a lot.”
The Wildcats struck first in the top of the second inning, getting a double from Caramanidis to leadoff the frame, who then got driven in by Kyler Crooks with a single to give West the early lead.
Meanwhile, Kevin Biesinger was doing his job on the mound, holding the Spartans at bay.
That’s not to say that North didn’t have their chances. In both the first and the third innings, the Spartans were able to put two men on but couldn’t put up a run.
“It was tough,” Oshkosh North coach Troy Schaefer said. “We’ve been a little sporadic this year with our runs and getting timely hits. Sometimes we’be been good and sometimes we’ve battled with it.”
North wasn’t able to do that thanks to some timely pitching by Biesinger to get himself out of some jams.
“You have to stay calm,” Biesinger said. “I hit corners and that’s what did it for me.”
Ultimately, North was able to tie the game in the fifth inning thanks to two Oshkosh West errors that allowed Sam Hawley to score and tie the game at 1-1.
But West was undeterred, coming right back the next inning with a rally. Drew Connors, Brad Domasky and Caramanidis led off the inning with singles to load the bases.
The Wildcats got one run in when Jordan Mueller drew a bases-loaded walk to score Domasky.
Then Steve Wolf hit a slow chopper that was fielded by North’s Mike Becker, who then overthrew Hawley at the plate. That scored both Carmanidis and Crooks to give West a 4-1 lead.
“Just putting the ball in play. That’s the main thing,” Oshkosh West coach Tony Gerharz said. “Just make the defense throw you out in that situation. And we scored two runs on it.”
Biesinger then got himself out of a first and third jam with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning and held down the Spartans in the seventh to give the Wildcats the victory.
Domasky and Caramanidis each had two hits on the game for Oshkosh West to lead the charge. Matt Luft and Robert Phillips each had two hits for the Spartans.
For Oshkosh North, a season with high hopes ended just like that.
“We set our sights on bigger destinations,” Schaefer said. “When our destination ends here, it hurts.”
For Oshkosh West, they live to see another day, taking on Watertown today at 5 p.m., which leaves little time for celebration.
“We just need to keep playing,” Geharz said. “It’s a nice thing to be able to keep playing. We’ll see what we can do down there.”
Osh. West …010 003 0 — 4 6 2
Osh. North …000 010 0 — 1 7 2
WP: Kevin Biesinger (7 IP, 5 BBs, 9 Ks). LP: Andrew Winchell (5 IP, 2 BBs, 2 Ks).
Leading hitters: OW — Nick Caramanidis 2×3 2B, 2 R; Brad Domasky 2×3; Kyler Crooks 1×3 RBI; ON — Matt Luft 2×4; Robert Phillips 2×4.