Baseball Cardinals eliminated

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Cooper Holewinski had a key two-run double in Middleton’s regional final against Madison Memorial on June 30, but the Cardinals fell to the Spartans, 9-5./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The 23-minute, half inning felt like a week to Ben Collier.

Collier, Middleton’s standout junior right fielder, watched impatiently as Madison Memorial sent nine batters to the plate in the third inning of last Thursday’s WIAA Division 1 regional final. When it was over, the Cardinals had used two pitchers, the Spartans had scored five runs and Middleton never could recover.

Memorial toppled the host Cardinals, 9-5, ending Middleton’s season in the process. The Spartans advanced to Tuesday’s Middleton Sectional, while the Cardinals finished the year 14-10.

“It was a very long inning,” Collier said. “Things just kept happening. It wasn’t errors either. They just hit the ball, kept moving guys over, and we just couldn’t get out of it.”

Middleton first-year manager Brent Jorgensen agreed.

“Oh man, that was tough,” Jorgensen said. “That inning just went on and on.”

The teams were deadlocked, 1-1, in the top of the third when Memorial had three hits, drew a pair of walks and had one hit batsman. Middleton starter Matt Ballweg didn’t record an out in the third, reliever Logan Schultz had a rough go of it, and when the frame was finished, Memorial had surged to a 6-1 lead.

“We just had to keep a positive mindset and do your job when you’re up at the plate and when you have a chance to strike,” Middleton senior center fielder Cooper Holewinski said. “You can’t let those long innings get away from you and then building negative energy. It’s all about just keeping your head up and looking to bounce back.”

The Cardinals did just that.

Middleton closed within 6-2 in the bottom of the third when Collier reached on a fielder’s choice and later scored on a base hit by junior Casey Hodgman. After Memorial struck back for a run in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals answered with a three-run fourth to pull within 7-5 and keep hope alive.

Junior shortstop Brooks Kascheur led off the inning with an infield single, then senior catcher Remington Lockwood walked. Holewinski followed with a two-run double to left center field off his future college roommate, Memorial senior batter Kyle Jungers.

“He got me the first two at bats, so I really wanted to get back at him,” said Holewinski, who will play at Edgewood College beginning this fall. “I was just going to try to barrel the ball up and hit it hard. It was big that we got those two runs there, but my job was to hit the ball hard and try to make something happen. It was nice to do that.”

Holewinski scored when senior second baseman Dylan Carrington followed with a single to center to pull Middleton within 7-5. Amazingly, though, that was all the offense Middleton could muster.

Memorial reliever Seth Gonring worked the final four innings, walked three, but didn't allow a hit or a run.

Middleton put two runners on with two out in the sixth, but Collier flew out to center.

Then with the Cardinals in a 9-5 hole in the seventh, they put two on with one out. Kalscheur then grounded to shortstop Kyle Yu, who flipped to second baseman Kole Kerkhoff who appeared to drop the toss.

Instead, the field umpire ruled that Kerkhoff held onto the ball long enough to record a force out at second. One batter later, Middleton’s season was over.

“He just said that from the angle he was at, he thought they he had ‘em,” Jorgensen said of the controversial call at second. “From my angle I didn’t think he squeezed his glove. I thought it rolled right in his glove and right out of his glove. But obviously, I’m the coach and I saw what I wanted to see.”

Jorgensen saw a good deal of what he hoped during what many believed would be a rebuilding year for Middleton.

The Cardinals fielded one of the least experienced teams in the Big Eight Conference, but went 10-8 and finished fifth in the league, just one game out of third place.

“We really didn’t have much coming back,” Jorgensen said. “We didn't have much coming back for run production. We didn't have that much coming back from a pitching perspective … and given what we had returning, I’m OK with where we were at. I’m not happy or satisfied because our record wasn’t as good as it could have been, but I think it was as to be expected.”

Holewinski was Middleton’s lone returning every-day player, and he believed his job extended beyond the field.

“I want the Middleton name to stay the Middleton name. I want the culture to stay Middleton baseball,” Holewinski said. “My job as a guy and a leader was to make sure the program produced baseball players all the way around. I didn’t want guys to get out of their heads. I wanted guys to play baseball. That’s what we do here at Middleton is play baseball.

“And I’m proud. I’m proud of what I got done. I know the juniors will step up next year. I’m very excited, very excited to be close by and be able to come back and watch these guys.”

The Cardinals could be a team to watch closely in 2020.

Middleton has a deep and extremely talented junior class. The Cardinals’ JV team was extremely strong this spring, as well.

So, Middleton will have extremely high hopes a year from now.

“The expectation is to compete for a conference championship,” Jorgensen said matter-of-factly.

Added Collier: “We had a young team this year, so we do have a lot of players that have a lot of potential for next season. We had a really young team this year, so that bodes really well for next season.”


May 30

WIAA Division 1 regional final

Madison Memorial 9, Middleton 5

Memorial ............ 105 102 0 — 9 9 3

Middleton ........... 011 300 0 — 5 6 0

Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Jungers (W; 3-6-4-3-2), S. Gonring (4-0-0-3-5), Collier (2-2-1-2-2), Schultz (3-4-2-1-1), Ballweg (L; 2-3-5-2-0).

Leading Hitters — MM: Jungers (2x3), Murphy (2x4). Mid: Carrington (2x3). 2B — Holewinski.



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