Jason Marquez fires a pitch Tuesday. He is returning next season. (click for larger version)
May 30, 2012 | 08:19 AMTalk about a momentum killer.
The Badger High School baseball team had just rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth and its hopes of advancing in tournament play seemed promising.
But the Racine Horlick Rebels took the lead with an eight-run sixth and never looked back on the way to a 14-7 victory in the Division 1 WIAA regional opener.
The sixth-seeded Badgers were their own worst enemy against the 11th-seeded Rebels during the pivotal sixth. Two hit batters. Bad bounces. Bad fielding. The Rebels also used some small ball with a bunt hit and a couple stolen bases. It only took them six hits to score their eight runs. It was the miscues in the field that were the biggest factor as far as Badger coach Aaron Zweifel was concerned. Officially, the Badgers only committed four errors for the game but Zweifel thinks his team benefited from some charitable scorekeeping.
"I counted eight errors at least," he said.
Some bad bounces, too?
"Sure, but they're part of the game," Zweifel said. "We didn't make our own breaks."
In a game that lasted more than three hours, the Badgers were only out-hit 14-13. It was a slugfest by both sides. Lake Geneva and Horlick combined for 27 hits, seven of them for extra bases. Despite giving up 14 runs, Zweifel had kind words for his pitchers.
"We just didn't make a lot of plays," he said.
Four of Horlick's runs were unearned.
Badger's Peter Krien and Mitch Jensen both hit homers. Krien's solo shot came in the first and gave the Badgers a short-lived lead. Jensen's drove in two in the fifth as the Badgers fought back with three runs to take a 6-5 lead. For the game, Jensen went 2-for-4 and added a double and three RBIs to go along with his homer. Krien was also 2-for-4, and Jonah Zeinert added two hits.
Eric Skipper took the loss for the Badgers, giving up seven hits and eight runs, four of them earned. Travis Stahulak started and allowed five earned runs. He had four strikeouts including a key one in the second. Jason Marquez pitched a strong 1 1/3 to end the game giving up only two hits and one run.
Despite losing in the first round of the playoffs, Zweifel said he was happy about the season as a whole. He cited a sweep of Burlington and finishing near the top of the conference among the highlights.
"Remember," he said. "This is a team that only won two games last year."
While his team was understandably dejected after the loss, Zweifel was looking forward to next year as this year's squad was entirely made up of underclassmen.