Middleton's HTL team wins playoff opener

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Hunter Bindl and Middleton’s Home Talent League team rolled in their playoff opener Sunday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The Middleton 29ers have enjoyed a memorable Home Talent League season, to date.

Middleton went 14-2 during the regular season. The 29ers won the Northern Section’s Eastern Division. And Middleton was a No. 1 seed in the postseason.

But midway through the 29ers’ first round playoff game with Waunakee Sunday, they held a tenuous 2-1 lead. And Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand had a simple message for his team.

“It doesn’t matter what happened the last 16 games,” Hellenbrand said. “Now, its win or go home.”

Middleton wasn’t ready to have its season stopped.

The 29ers erupted for five runs in the sixth inning and seven more in the seventh and drilled visiting Waunakee, 14-2. Middleton improved to 15-2 overall and will host Black Earth (9-8) in the second round of the postseason Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Our bats came alive and we rolled the rest of the game,” Hellenbrand said.

Boy did they ever.

Andrew Zimmerman had an RBI single in the first inning and Brennan Schmitt led off the second inning with a solo home run to right field to give Middleton a 2-0 lead. But the 29ers’ bats went quiet and Waunakee scored once in the sixth to pull within 2-1.

“We had a couple opportunities to score in the middle innings, but Waunakee made a couple of great plays,” Hellenbrand said. “After Waunakee put one on the board in the sixth to pull within one, we needed a little spark to get the momentum back.”

Middleton got much more than a spark in the sixth. It got fireworks. 

Schmitt and Drew Farrell had one out singles, and Hunter Bindl walked with two outs to load the bases. Brandon Scheidler then walked, which scored Schmitt to make it 3-1, and Kevin Dubler followed with a bases clearing double that scored Alec Morrison, Bindl and Scheidler.

After a walk to Josh Hinson, Zimmerman doubled to left center to bring home Dubler and give Middleton a commanding 7-1 lead.

“Bindl and Scheidler each had great at-bats to get the bases loaded for Dubler,” Hellenbrand said. “And Dubler came through when we needed him the most to clear the bases.”

Middleton then exploded for seven runs in the seventh.

With one out, Farrell singled, Morrison walked, and Bindl reached on a bunt in which every runner was safe. Scheidler then drilled a bases clearing double that scored Farrell, Morrison and Bindl and made it 10-1. 

Dubler then singled home Scheidler, Hinson walked and Zimmerman singled again to load the bases. Ross Hellenbrand’s single scored Dubler, Schmitt had an RBI single that plated Hinson, and Farrell had his second hit of the inning, which brought home Zimmerman.

“Our guys were ready today,” Brandon Hellenbrand said.

Jeff Schafer threw six terrific innings and picked up the win. Schafer allowed five hits, one run, struck out two and walked one. Drew Farrell threw the last three innings, giving up one run, two hits and striking out two.

“Schafer did a great job on the mound,” Brandon Hellenbrand said. “He was really sharp and did a great job keeping their guys off balance and allowing our defense to make plays. He tweaked his hamstring in the top of the sixth, but was able to finish the inning. Farrell came on in relief and did exactly what we expected him to do, throw strikes and dominate the hitters with a lead like we had.”

Dubler finished the day 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBI, while Farrell went 4-for-5. Scheidler went 2-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI, Zimmerman went 3-for-5 with two RBI and Schmitt went 3-for-5 with two RBI.

• All stars: The HTL All-Star Game is Friday at Warner Park at 7 p.m. Andrew Zimmerman and Ross Hellenbrand will represent Middleton.

• Batting champ: Middleton’s Luke Schafer won the HTL batting championship with a .509 average. Schafer went 28-for-55 this season.

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