Wausaukee’s first appearance in the WIAA state baseball tournament since 1999 was seemingly over shortly after it started on Wednesday morning.
The Rangers gave up eight runs on three hits in the second inning and never recovered in an 11-1 loss in five innings to Greenwood in a WIAA Division 4 state semifinal game at Fox Cities Stadium.
Wausaukee, which had outscored its opponents 34-0 in its previous four playoff games, were only outhit 6-4.
But it couldn’t recover from the rough second frame.
“It started off with our pitching, not throwing strikes,” said Wausaukee coach Paul Moser, whose team gave up nine walks. “That will hurt you at any level you play.”
Junior Beau DeLaet retired the first four batters of the game and then the wheels fell off, as the right-hander issued three straight walks.
DeLaet handed out three more free passes before being replaced by senior Cole Lewandowski, who gave up a three-run triple to Booker Bredlau before ending the second inning with a strikeout.
“The first inning was good, I felt fine,” said DeLaet, who was tagged for seven earned runs. “Then, after that, I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. I just couldn’t find it.”
Following two more Greenwood runs in the top of the third, the Rangers (15-7) had their crack at a big inning, getting a lead-off double by senior Dillon Meyers and loading the bases with no outs.
DeLaet drove in Meyers with a single to left field, but it was the Rangers’ last hit of the game.
The rally seemed to be crushed when sophomore Aaron Schlies fouled off three straight offerings with a full count only to go down on strikes.
“Having the bases loaded with no outs, it hurts just getting one run out of there,” Moser said. “I thought we had a good chance of getting four, five or six runs across.
“Usually in that situation, especially in the playoffs, we’ve had such clutch hitting. It just didn’t come together today.”
James Hlavac allowed one earned run with four strikeouts and one walk in four innings to pick up the win for Greenwood (15-3), which after falling in the semifinals last year will face Lake Country Lutheran for the Division 4 title at 9 a.m. Thursday.
It will be Greenwood’s first championship game since it won the Class C title in 1990.
With seven batters and eight field players returning from its lineup next season, Wausaukee is hoping there won’t be as big a gap between its next state appearance.
“If we keep working hard in the offseason I think we can come back here again next year,” said Schlies, who moved from catcher to the mound in the fifth and recorded two strikeouts.
After missing time with a hamstring injury this season, Lewandowski and the five other seniors on the team were thankful to get the opportunity to play on the state stage.
“We have a lot of young kids on the team so we’re just trying to keep their heads up and fight back as hard as we can,” Lewandowski said. “It just didn’t go our way today. I think they’ll be back, though.”