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Clutch hits elude Badger baseball in sectional loss



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Gunner Losch shows his disgust after striking out Tuesday. Mike Ramczyk.

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June 04, 2013 | 06:11 PM
WHITEWATER — Badger baseball coach Aaron Zweifel said if his club could play solid defense Tuesday in a WIAA sectional semifinal against top-seeded Kenosha Bradford, starting pitcher Colton Andresen would keep the Badgers in the ball game.

Well, Andresen had his usual ace stuff, and the defense dazzled with some nifty plays. However, Badger's bats didn't come through in the clutch.

Badger was right there with the Red Devils throughout, but missed opportunities at the plate led to a 3-1 loss and ended Badger's bid for its first-ever state tournament trip.

Badger ended its season 14-9. Bradford improved to 22-5.

Playing at Prucha Field on the UW-Whitewater campus, Badger took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and managed seven hits overall, but the local boys ultimately left 10 men on base. Bradford's pitcher Kevin Tibor, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recruit, used a fastball in the low 90s and a wicked breaking ball to stymie the Badgers.

"It was a tough loss," Zweifel said. "I feel bad for the seniors. Colton did an awesome job. We put the ball in play, but we just didn't get that clutch hit."

Andresen had another strong outing after earning a complete game victory May 30 in the regional final. He struck out five, allowed two earned runs and scattered eight hits over six innings. However, Tibor was a little better, fanning eight Badgers and only allowing seven hits.

"I was nervous at first," Andresen said. "It was the biggest stage we've been on all year. But I knew I had my guys behind me to defend."

Andresen helped his own cause in the top of the first, doubling to right-center to lead off the game. Ian Weber followed that with a single to score Andresen.

Bradford answered in the bottom of the first. After a single, Tibor doubled and advanced to third on a throwing error, which scored the leadoff batter.

Tony DeBartolo's sacrifice fly made it 2-1 Bradford after the first inning.

Andresen cruised along on the mound until the bottom of the fourth. Bradford's first two hitters singled, and another base knock by Andrew Luscomb plated a run after Weber's throwing error.

Despite a 3-1 deficit, Badger didn't quit. In the top of the fifth, Weber reached on an error, and Krien hustled to beat out an infield single. Jensen then walked to load the bases. With two outs, Gunner Losch struck out on four pitches.

Peter Krien and Weber led the Badgers with two hits each. Eric Skipper and Trent Bobula added a hit apiece.

A historic run

Badger won its sixth conference title in school history with an 11-3 record, sharing the Southern Lakes crown with Union Grove. Despite the sectional loss, it was the team's first trip to sectionals since 2008.

"Since my freshman year, we always knew senior year was going to be big," Andresen said. " We have a lot to hang our hats on."

Zweifel said the main goal was conference.

"The conference title cements a special place for this team," Zweifel said. "Anything after conference was icing on the cake. I'm very happy with the season. Hats off to these guys. They worked hard all year and in the offseason."

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