Good things come to those who are patient and wait.
After the Oconto baseball team used that advice to rally and force extra innings Wednesday, the school’s long-awaited first WIAA state championship in any sport is within reach.
The Blue Devils came back from a 3-0 deficit and had momentum heading into the eighth, when the bases were loaded and junior Bryce Bostedt plated senior Trent Mehlberg for the walk-off 4-3 win against Osseo-Fairchild at Fox Cities Stadium.
After advancing to its first title game in its fourth state appearance, Oconto will face Westby at noon today for the Division 3 title.
“I said be more patient at the plate because we were chasing balls out of the zone and making easy outs for them with weak pop-ups,” said Oconto coach Brian Sohrweide about having two hits through five innings.
“I thought if we were patient, we would get guys on and get things going.”
The Blue Devils (15-4) began to do that in the sixth, when Grant Frazer and Trent Mehlberg hit back-to-back doubles.
Mehlberg’s drive down the left-field line brought in two runs, while the senior first baseman came in on a Kyle Krueger single in the next at-bat to tie the game.
“I just wanted to get a good swing on it and see what happens from there,” said Mehlberg, who struck out in his first two at-bats and later hit a leadoff single in the eighth.
Added Sohrweide, “Earlier in the game he was over swinging. I think he was getting a little too anxious.”
Anxious probably also could describe Frazer as he headed to the mound for the start as a freshman.
But the right-hander didn’t show any signs of that.
Frazer threw a complete game in picking up the win, allowing three runs while scattering six hits with two strikeouts against three walks.
“The first couple of pitches, I had some nerves,” Frazer said about his first two pitches that resulted in fly-outs. “Then I kind of settled down. (Catcher) Blake (Campshure) and I called a good game, and he was on the same page with me the whole (time).”
That included in the top of the eighth when Frazer put the go-ahead run on by hitting Osseo-Fairchild pitcher Lucas Eide, who was removed for pinch-runner Sam Fetherston.
Campshure, however, picked off Fetherston as he tried to steal second for the second out of the inning, giving Oconto momentum heading into the bottom of the frame.
“You don’t want them in scoring position late in the game, so it was huge,” Sohrweide said.
Eide allowed seven hits with five strikeouts and four walks over seven-plus innings in the loss for Osseo-Fairchild (16-8), which got all three of its runs in the third inning.
But Sohrweide was confident somebody would respond for his team.
“Everybody has taken a turn with this team coming up big at different times,” said Sohrweide, whose team defeated Coleman — last year’s D4 champion — with an 8-5 victory in 10 innings for the regional title.
With Frazer eating up all eight innings Wednesday, that leaves senior ace Tyler Trepanier in position to take his turn in the spotlight when he gets the start on the mound in the championship.
“It got us through sectionals, so I’m staying with the same formula and not changing a thing,” Sohrweide said.
“I can’t say it was this guy all the time or that guy all the time, every game you look back and it was somebody else that stepped up.”