Middleton tops Black Earth

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Dennis Semrau/Special to the Times-Tribune
Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand (left) and Brandon Scheidler celebrate the 29ers’ win over Black Earth./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It didn’t take Brandon Scheidler long to set the tone for the Middleton 29ers offense Sunday afternoon.

Scheidler singled in the bottom of the first inning for the first of his three hits and later scored on a single by Kevin Dubler — who also finished with three hits — to provide a stellar start for the 29ers’ offense.

Meanwhile, right-hander Drew Farrell scattered four hits and struck out five in a complete-game effort to help Middleton secure a 6-1 victory over Black Earth in a Home Talent League Northern Section first round playoff game at Sorenson- Bakken Field.

“When that happens you’re in control and can stay aggressive instead of being too picky and can just get after the hitters and get a lot of ground balls, which is what I did today,” Farrell said after Middleton’s offense staked him to a 2-0 first-inning lead.

Middleton (15-2) swept the season series with Black Earth (7-12), but the 29ers didn’t take anything for granted in their third meeting of the season.

“They were coming in hot,” Scheidler said of Black Earth, which was riding a four-game winning streak. “We knew they were a good team. They had everybody back from years past, so we couldn’t take them lightly.”

After Farrell retired Black Earth in order in the top of the first, Scheidler lined a single to left, moved to second when Luke Schafer followed with a single and then scored on Dubler’s line drive to right field.

One out later, Ross Hellenbrand delivered a sacrifice fly to left to score Schafer for a 2-0 lead that proved to be too much for Black Earth to overcome.

“When he goes at the top of the order, we all seem to go,” Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand said of Scheidler, who batted .435 during the regular season to place third in the Northern Section batting race.

“In the top of the first inning he comes up and rips a line drive right away for a base hit and you could feel our guys all of a sudden start to feel it a little bit.”

Scheidler said getting off to a fast start was important to keep Black Earth from gaining any momentum.

“Coming out that first inning, scoring two, proving that we could put runs up against Myles (Potuznik) was big,” Scheidler said. “That boosted everyone’s confidence. We only scored six runs, but everyone hit the ball hard today. It was a good sign.”

Black Earth manager Ben Voss lamented that the two-run cushion was an early omen that it wouldn’t be the Bombers’ day.

“That changes the whole mentality of the game, getting down right away especially against these guys,” Voss said. “There was no letdown, but psychologically playing behind against these guys is always tough.”

Potuznik, who allowed four runs on seven hits spanning five innings, agreed the early outburst was a game-changer.

“Drew’s a great pitcher. When he’s pitching with a lead, I don’t think there’s a better pitcher in the league,” Potuznik said of Farrell. “It was tough. They just hit all of my mistakes (Sunday). But you can’t hang your head, it was a great season.”

After finishing the regular season tied for the final playoff spot, Black Earth had to defeat both Reedsburg on Aug. 3 and Lodi on Aug. 4 to earn a playoff berth.

So the Bombers weren’t ready to concede anything despite Middleton’s productive start.

“Drew pitched a hell of a game and we couldn’t square anything up,” Voss said of Farrell. “He was throwing strikes and getting ground balls. We weren’t doing anything. He kept us on our toes and he was mixing his pitches really well.”

Black Earth averted a shutout in the top of the fourth inning when Ben Jennings, Jed Traxler and Rob Capener delivered consecutive singles with two outs to trim the deficit to 2-1.

However, Middleton quickly countered in its half of the frame when Cole Cook drew a lead-off walk, Eric Simon followed one out later with a single, and Scheidler drove them both in with a booming two-out triple to center field.

Coming off an 0-for-5 performance a week earlier at Sauk Prairie, Scheidler showed he was back on track when the 29ers needed him the most.

“I made a slight adjustment to my swing where I place my hands, and that helped level my swing out and I started squaring up on the ball again,” Scheidler said.  “But sometimes you’ve just got to go up there with a clear conscience, relax and swing the bat and good things happen.”

Scheidler also doubled in the eighth inning, finishing a home run away from the cycle. His presence at the top of the Middleton lineup provided a comfort zone for his teammates.

“He’s our fire. He gets on and we get everything going,” Dubler said of Scheidler. “Obviously he’s a good enough hitter to hit in the middle of the lineup and we’ve debated that.

“But there’s really no need to move him. He’s been doing a great job. He’s fast, too. If he hits singles he can steal bases. He’s definitely a threat to a lot of opposing teams and that helps us out, too.”

Farrell agreed.

“When Turk’s going at the top, everyone follows his lead,” Farrell said of Scheidler. “When he’s hot, we’re hot, which is no secret.”

Middleton put the game away with two runs in the seventh inning on Ross Hellenbrand’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Cook.

That left it up to Farrell to silence the Black Earth bats the rest of the way, which he did, retiring the Bombers’ final seven hitters.

“He was around the plate, even the balls that he was throwing were good misses. That’s what you want to see,” Dubler said of his battery mate. “Even the hits they got were bloop hits, they weren’t solid. There’s not much you can do about that, so we minimized the damage and just kept on attacking those guys and that’s what he does best.”

The victory set up a second-round matchup with seventh-seeded Richland Center, which ousted second-seeded Sauk Prairie.

Middleton prevailed in an earlier meeting with Richland Center, recording a 6-0 victory on June 7.

Yet after losing to Cross Plains in the second-round of the playoffs last year, the 29ers don’t plan to overlook anyone.

“Last year we found out the hard way if you don’t come ready to play you’re going home,” Brandon Hellenbrand said. “Last year helped us, so hopefully we’ll bring a great attitude to every game and try to make a run at this thing.”


Black Earth ..... 000 100 000 —  1 4 1

Middleton ..… 200 200 200  — 6 10 3

Pitching (IP-H-ER-BB-K): Black Earth – Potuznik (L, 5-7-4-1-2), Caminiti (3-3-1-0-3). Middleton – Farrell (W, 9-4-0-1-5).

Hitting leaders: Middleton — Scheidler (3x5), Dubler (3x4). 

2B – Scheidler, Dubler. 3B — Scheidler.


• Ashton 7, Cross Plains 5 — Kevin Peternell earned the win, while Tanner Meinholz and Casey Miller each had two RBI.

Cross Plains .... 000 000 023 — 5 11 5

Ashton ............... 200 050 00x — 7 8 1

Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Allen (L; 4.2-8-2-1-5), Hack (3.1-0-0-0-5); Peternell (W; 7-5-1-3-3), Adler (2-6-4-1-3).

Leading hitters — Cross Plains — Meinholz (3x5), Doherty (3x3), Sarbacker (2x5), Lochner (2x3); Ashton — Meinholz (2x4), Adler (2x4).

HR — Doherty; 2B — Meinholz (2), Doherty.


• Mazomanie 10, West Middleton 1 —  Chris Anderson slugged two home runs as the Mustangs rolled past West Middleton.

Mazomanie ... 010 203 103 — 10 14 1

West Middleton  000 100 000 — 1 8 1

Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Zander (W; 9-8-1-3-3); Leggett (L; 9-14-9-4-6).

Leading hitters — Mazomanie — Howard (3x6), Andersen (3x5), Page (2x5), Williams (2x4); West Middleton — Everson (2x4).

HR — Schoch, Andersen (2); 2B — Howard, Doyle, Williams.



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