May 20, 2014 | 02:52 PMThe Badger baseball team snapped its 11-game losing streak on Saturday, notching back-to-back wins over Waterford on May 16 at Badger High School. The boys are 3-13 overall.
"It was nice to get back in the win column again," Badger head coach Aaron Zweifel said.
Badger won 12-11 in the first game of the doubleheader and scored 9 of their runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"No one expects you to come back from 8 runs down in half an inning," Zweifel said.
And that took some pressure off the guys.
Waterford made a pitching change in the middle of the seventh.
Their starting pitcher, Dylan Malecki, had been rolling — he gave up only 3 hits and 3 runs in six innings — and up 8 runs with a half inning to play was a good opportunity for the opposing coach to get young pitchers some experience. The switch worked in Badger's favor. Badger loaded the bases off two errors and a walk. Then Waterford walked in a run.
"You got bases loaded with nobody out and you've already scored a run," Zweifel said of the inning. "I think at that point (the boys) just said, 'hey, lets just go for it, we've got nothing to lose here.' No one expects you to win, it's not a great position to be in, but it's kind of a stress-free situation to be in."
The score was 11-4 Waterford and Badger's Donald Schnurer struck out looking before Levi Burnette lined out to left field. There were two outs and three men on base. And the Badgers rallied.
John Laskowski hit a line drive single to right and scored Alex Morland. Derek Denecke singled to left and scored Tom Ritzman.
Clint Ugolini doubled to left and scored Laskowski and Denecke.
Bryant Nugent walked and Alex Morland brought Ugolini and Nugent home off a double to right.
The Badgers tied the game 11-11 and Colton Tisch stepped up to the plate. He fouled away the first pitch, and then got a hold of the second, hitting a hard ground ball to center field to score Morland on a walk-off single.
"It's one of those contagious things," Zweifel said. "Confidence is contagious and hitting is contagious ... It was crazy. You could kind of see them tightening up. It was kind of the perfect storm."
"I've never seen anything like it."
In game two, Badger kept the momentum going with a 4-2 victory.
"We were a totally different team," Zweifel said. "We were confident. We were just playing baseball. I'm sure it's probably been weighing on their minds, losing all those games in a row. They just kinda let it go that second game.
"John Laskowski pitched an amazing game. We played great defense behind them, and we had some timely hits, and it was just a great baseball game.
"So yeah, it was a lot of fun on Friday."
In a season characterized by Badger's struggles at the plate, last week was a welcome change of pace — Badger scored 27 runs in their past three games, which includes a 11-7 loss to Elkhorn on May 15. In 12 games between April 5 and May 13, Badger scored a total of 20 runs.
"I think slowly over the last few games it's been starting to come together offensively for us," Zweifel said.
Zweifel said that the first six and a half innings of game one against Waterford were a "carbon copy" of all the things that had been going wrong this season — errors, walks, beans and batting woes terrorized the team.
"But the last half inning was just unbelievable," Zweifel said.
He felt the boys had broken through, and with plenty of games left to play — Badger has seven remaining before the playoffs, including four conference games. It's not enough time to salvage a winning season, but it is enough time to get hot before post-season play.
"I told (the team), the first state tournament I went to in high school, we were 4-12 going into the tournament and we lost in the state championship," Zweifel said. "All you've got to do is get hot at the right time and start believing. It was fun to see them in that second game come out and just play baseball. And there were no nerves, they were just playing and having a good time and they were alive and talking more than they have been. It was kind of more of what we had expected going into the year."
Badger lost 7-6 to Janesville Craig on Monday night. The results of Tuesday night's game against Westosha Central were not available by Regional News deadline. Badger will play Westosha again on May 22 in Westosha at 4:30 p.m.
Zweifel said he's been particularly happy with the way his seniors have kept the team together this season.
"They've really worked hard to build team chemistry and it's tough to maintain that when things are going as bad as they are in the field," Zweifel said.
And he anticipates tough matchups for the rest of the season.
"Westosha is the surprise of the year in the conference," Zweifel said. Westosha has emerged as one of the top two Southern lakes teams.
"This is a big week for us for sure," Zweifel said. "I mean, realistically we've been out of the conference race here for a while, but just to keep that confidence going, to keep that mentality, that mindset going that they have right now I think is big."
And it might help them make a run in the playoffs.