Badger’s baseball team earned a nine-seed in its regional bracket, setting up a May 28 road matchup against Southern Lakes Conference foe Westosha Central. However, sloppy field conditions in Salem moved the game to Badger’s home field, even though the Badgers remained the away team.

They were not able to capitalize on their newfound home-field advantage, though, as the Falcons knocked them out of the playoffs by a score of 14-5.

Things started well for the Badgers, who scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning to grab an early 2-0 lead.

After a strikeout by the lead-off man Connor Love, senior Brant Stahulak got things started with a single, and junior Addison Hochevar drew a walk to put runners on first and second with only one out.

The pair shifted over to second and third during a Tyler Deleskiewicz strikeout in the next at-bat, giving Badger a pair of runners in scoring position, but just one out away from coming up empty.

When senior Eli Syverson got into an 0-2 count, it seemed like the Badgers were in tough shape. But Syverson came through with a clutch two-out, two-strike single that scored both runners.

Heading into the game, co-head coach Beau Roddy knew that getting on the scoreboard early against Westosha’s star senior pitcher Austin Glidden would be the key to pulling off the win. When Glidden pitched against the Badgers in the regular season on April 3, he threw a complete-game shutout to help the Falcons to an 8-0 win.

“He almost threw 30 pitches in the first inning, and we were off to a good start,” Roddy said. “He one-hit us the first game we faced him, had 13 strikeouts, so for us to score two in the first early was big.”

That 2-0 advantage only lasted until the bottom of the second inning, though, when Westosha Central scored three runs to seize a 3-2 lead without recording an out, before Badger’s pitcher Hochevar righted the ship with three straight outs.

The Badgers were able to tie the game 3-3 in the top of the third.

Love led off the inning with a walk, followed up by a Stahulak single and a bunt for a hit by Hochevar to load the bases. Deleskiewicz then hit into a ground-out that allowed Love to score the tying run.

However, the wheels came off in the bottom of the third. After four batters, the Falcons had a man on first and second with two outs, but they then strung together six straight hits and seven runs before another out ended the inning with Westosha ahead 10-3.

The bottom of the fourth saw the Falcons extending that lead, scoring a pair of runs to make it a 12-3 ballgame.

Badger struck back in the top of the fifth inning with a two-run frame of their own to cut the deficit to seven.

Deleskiewicz got things started with a single to left field that got him to second, thanks to an error by Westosha Central’s left fielder. Junior Frank Gentile came in to pinch run for him once he reached second base.

Syverson was able to make it to second base on an error as well, this time as a Central infielder overthrow first base, setting up Badger with men on second and third. Gentile scored on a wild pitch, and Syverson scored on a double by senior Christian Schulz to bring the score to 12-5.

The Falcons got their lead back up to nine with one run in both the fifth and sixth innings before Badger cut it back down to eight at 14-6 in the final frame when Gentile scored on a bases-loaded walk to Schulz.

While the Badgers’ offense was solid, and the defense was not shabby, either, Badger had trouble on the mound, allowing 14 runs and 19 hits in the game. That issue of one area lacking while the others thrive was something the team has struggled with all season.

“It would come in spurts with different individuals, but never clicked as a team offensively or defensively. We never put together a complete game,” Roddy said.

The loss not only ended the Badgers’ season, it capped the career of a senior class that was not as large as in years past with, Badger’s program as a whole skewing younger. The group made up in quality what it lacked in quantity, with many of the players occupying key roles on the squad.

However, while those seniors may be graduating, the Badger coaches hope the seniors’ impact continues on.

“We hope we can create a culture where they’re returning here, they cheer us on and help us at practices whenever they want,” co-head coach Michael Ploch said. “We hope they continue to contribute, even though they won’t be going to school here anymore.”