Sun Prairie upends Middleton

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Gregg Hammill/For the Times-Tribune
Alec Morrison and Middleton's baseball team fell to Sun Prairie last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

There’s an old baseball saying that it’s not how hard you hit it, but where you hit it.

That saying proved true and was the difference when Middleton’s baseball team met rival Sun Prairie in a Big Eight Conference battle in Middleton last Saturday afternoon.

With the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game in the sixth inning, Middleton’s Drew Finley Haag drilled a ball to centerfield that was caught. An inning later, Sun Prairie’s Justus Benson reached on an infield blooper, which helped Sun Prairie pull off a hard-fought 4-3 victory.

“Drew hit that one on the screws,” Middleton coach Tom Schmitt said. “We talk about it all the time. That’s baseball when it doesn’t fall when you hit it the best.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s why you have the defense out there. You know if you get that one to fall it’s absolutely a different game, but it didn’t happen for us today in that respect.”

Middleton fell to 4-1 overall and in the Big Eight Conference, while Sun Prairie improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Eight.

“We were definitely hoping to get the victory,” said Middleton leftfielder Liam Belleveau. “We knew we were going to be able to compete with them and we knew what we had to do to do it. It was just a good place-marker on the season, just to see where we need to improve.”

The fact it came down to the wire that was a credit to Middleton.

After being stymied by Sun Prairie ace Marquis Reuter for five innings, Middleton battled back from a 3-0 deficit against reliever Luke DePrey.

DePrey came on in the sixth after Reuter walked leadoff batter Brennan Schmitt on four pitches. DePrey promptly walked Alan Roden, and both runners moved up a base after a pitch got away from catcher Grant Yee.

Consecutive groundouts to the right side of the infield by Alec Morrison and Nolan Kouba scored Schmitt and Roden to make it 3-2. After Zach Shipley followed with a single and Hunter Bindl walked, Belleveau tied the game with a clutch RBI single up the middle.

“I just went up to the plate thinking he wasn’t going to beat me,” Belleveau said. “I just got a pitch that I could hit right away, so I decided to take a good swing on it and good things happen. It was a great moment. It felt like we were going to take the whole game back.”

DePrey walked Ivan Monreal to load the bases, but escaped further damage when Drew Finley-Haag, Middleton’s leadoff hitter, lined out to center field.

Sun Prairie came up in the seventh and scored what proved to be the winning run without the benefit of a hit. Walker Jenkins reached on a walk, stole second, moved to third when shortstop Monreal couldn’t handle Benson’s short infield blooper and scored on Reuter’s sacrifice fly.

Middleton made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh inning. After getting the first two outs in the seventh, DePrey walked Morrison and Kouba before giving way to Walker Jenkins.

Jenkins struck out Joel Ticknor, but the ball squirted away from Yee and his throw to first base nearly pulled Kasey Bass off the bag. But Bass held on and the throw narrowly beat Ticknor to end it.

“I was happy with the way we played and rallied a couple of times and it gave us a chance right down to the last out,” Tom Schmitt said. “That’s what you hope for your team when you play a good program or a good team and both being 4-0 (in conference) at the time.

“I think we put on a good show. They played hard like we expected them to and they just got one more across than we did. It was close right to the end.”

Morrison was happy to see his team fight back at the end.

“That’s another good thing,” Morrison said. “We didn’t do a whole lot of that last year and this year we’ve been doing a good job. Hopefully we don’t have to battle back too much.”

Belleveau had a double and went 2-for-3 at the plate to pace Middleton.

“Liam had a good day at the plate,” Schmitt said. “That’s what you want your kids to do when they have the opportunity with two outs and guys in scoring position. The guys that got on ahead of him are just as important as Liam’s hit, but he came through once we got those positions.”

Morrison, Middleton’s ace, went six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits. Morrison allowed just one run through the first five innings, but gave up two runs after getting the first two outs of the sixth.

“There’s pitches I could make that could be better, but we did pretty well all around,” Morrison said. “There were a lot of bloop hits. You’ve got to make the next pitch. I got burned on a lot of those at-bats after the bloop hits or walks, so I’ll work on that.”

Schmitt was pleased with Morrison’s effort on the mound.

“Alec’s had three good outings for us now,” Schmitt said. “He’s worked hard, he’s passionate about baseball, he’s a senior and he’s got a lot more poise on the mound this year.

“In past years he thought maybe he had to do a little bit too much himself, but he’s understanding that we’ve got some guys around him that can make some plays. And offensively, we can get things done too for him.”

Reuter, Sun Prairie’s ace, yielded just one run on three hits in five-plus innings of work.

“He’s been a pitcher for them,” Schmitt said. “He’s got good velocity and now he mixed in a couple other off-speed pitches, which makes it challenging for a hitter. He was effectively wild. He wasn’t letting us get good swings on him and he fooled some of our guys, but when we had an opportunity there, it was nice to see us put a three spot on them.”

Ben Hauser paced Sun Prairie with a 2-for-4 performance.

Despite the loss, Middleton’s players were encouraged about the way it played against one of the perennial state powers in Sun Prairie.

“It really showed the quality of baseball that we know how to play and that we can play,” Belleveau said. “It just shows us and me individually that we’re going to get them the next time, no doubt.”

“It showed that we’re very mentally tough this year,” added Morrison. “We’re going to be a good team. I think we’ll be up towards the top of our conference, but we’ve got to go out and prove that.”

The game marked the third-annual Cardinals Strike Out Cancer event. The Middleton and Sun Prairie communities joined together to raise more than $10,000 for pediatric cancer research.

“There’s some real good positives on the field to take off of this, as well as off of the field and our guys were happy to be part of the Cardinals Strike Out Cancer game again this year,” Schmitt said. “It was a good crowd, a good day for baseball.”

 

SUN PRAIRIE 4, MIDDLETON 3

Sun Prairie........000 102 1 — 4 9 2

Middleton.........000 003 0 — 3 4 1

Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Deprey (1.2-1-1-5-0), Reuter (5-3-1-3-4), Bindl (1-1-1-1-1),

Morrison (6-8-3-4-2).

Leading Hitters — Sun Prairie — Curran (2x3), Hanson (2x3), Hauser (2x4). 2B — Curran,

Hauser. Middleton —Belleveau (2x3). 2B — Belleveau.

 

 

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