Baseball Cards earn No. 3 seed

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Nolan Smith and Middleton’s baseball team have won 10 of 11 games./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The road will be daunting, formidable.

Middleton’s baseball team certainly seems poised, though, to make a postseason run.

The Cardinals won four straight games last week and have now won 10 of 11 overall. And with the WIAA Division 1 playoffs set to begin Tuesday, Middleton (15-7 overall, 11-4 in the Big Eight) figures to be a remarkably tough out.

The Cardinals received the No. 3 seed in their half of the sectional and will host sixth-seeded Madison East in a regional semifinal June 15. The winner of that game will face either second-seeded DeForest or seventh-seeded Madison West in a regional final on June 17.

The regional includes top-seeded Madison Memorial, followed by DeForest, Middleton, Verona, Waunakee, Madison East and Madison West.

Sectionals are June 21 in Baraboo.

“Overall, our side of the regional is extremely tough,” Middleton manager Brent Jorgensen said. “There are several teams that are playing very well right now and it'll be interesting to see who rises to the challenge throughout that week.”

The Cardinals have certainly risen to the challenge in recent weeks. Here’s a recap of Middleton’s past week in which it ripped off four more wins.

• Middleton 6, Janesville Craig 3 — The visiting Cardinals rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh and knocked off the Cougars.

Easton Zempel allowed just one earned run in 6 1/3 innings and picked up the win. Zempel struck out seven and walked four.

In the Cardinals’ seventh, Nolan Smith led off with a single, but the next two batters were retired. With Middleton down to its final out, David Meier walked and Nolan Dunn ripped an RBI single to center that scored Smith and cut Craig’s lead to 3-2.

Zempel had a two-strike single to right to plate Meier and tie the game, then Aidan Williams singled to right to score Dunn and give Middleton a 4-3 advantage. Pinch runner Bryce Hensen scored on a wild pitch, then Preston Roell’s base hit to center scored Williams.

Tyler Pincombe relieved Zempel in the seventh, recorded the final two outs and notched the save.

“We were down to our last strike,” Jorgensen said of Zempel’s game-tying hit. “Obviously that hit was crucial for our win on (June 1), but it also gave us quite a bit of confidence going into the next game.”

• Middleton 5, Janesville Craig 1 — Aiden Williams allowed just two hits and one run in notching a complete-game victory for the Cardinals on June 2. Williams struck out three, walked three and threw strikes on 63 of his 100 pitches.

Williams helped his own cause with two hits and two RBI, while Jacob Andler also had a pair of hits and scored three runs. Nolan Smith added a triple and an RBI, while Hayden Hellenbrand had a hit and an RBI.

“We had some tough and gritty performances to come out on top in both games,” Jorgensen said of the two Craig games. “Throughout both games, our pitching was really good and we had timely two-out hitting late in both games that made the difference for us. It was good to see our guys find a way to win both games against a quality opponent.”

• Middleton 5, Janesville Parker 3 — The Cardinals broke away from a 2-2 tie with a pair of sixth innings runs and held on to beat the host Vikings on June 3.

Tyler Pincombe went the distance and picked up the win. Pincombe needed just 80 pitches (55 strikes), allowed two earned runs and struck out three.

Preston Roell had a pair of RBIs during Middleton’s key sixth inning that scored Jacob Andler and Nolan Smith. Aiden Williams also had two hits and an RBI.

“We were facing a small deficit throughout most of the game and we stayed confident and composed throughout the game and it paid off,” Jorgensen said. “Tyler Pincombe found ways to strand Parker's runners in several scoring chances, and as a team we scratched across enough runs ourselves to come out with a close victory against a very underrated team.

“We were down early in the first two games of the week against Craig and our guys knew what they had to do against Parker to come out with another victory. We were calm, focused, and determined. It was really fun to watch and be a part of.”

• Middleton 3, Sussex Hamilton 2 — Eric Pongratz’s two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Jacob Andler and lifted the Cardinals past the visiting Chargers on June 4.

JT Hockers went the distance for Middleton and picked up the win. Hockers allowed just one earned run, struck out six and threw strikes on a whopping 72 of his 92 pitches (78.3%).

“It was a close game all throughout and we found creative ways to win when the wind was blowing in from the outfield at about 20 miles per hour,” Jorgensen said. “With the two pitchers throwing well in the game and the wind, we knew it was going to be a low-scoring game and we had to find a way to do enough to win.”

Hamilton, which had beat Pewaukee — the No. 2 team in Division 2 earlier in the week — took a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

In the fourth, though, Middleton answered with a pair of runs. Nolan Dunn’s RBI triple scored Bryce Hensen and Andler’s single plated Dunn.

Hamilton tied the game in the top of the seventh, then Middleton won it in the bottom of the frame.

“Overall, our pitching and defense were really sharp this week,” Jorgensen said. “We continued to make solid improvements in those areas and it was a major difference-maker for us in each of our wins. We also had several two-out rallies late in games that were really fun to be a part of.

“Right now we are playing with more poise, more confidence, and starting to put it all together as a team. It is fun to see the team's confidence continue to improve each week and I am looking forward to watching that confidence carry us into our last week of the regular season.”

• Strikeout Cancer game: Middleton hosts Sun Prairie Thursday in the seventh annual “Cardinals Strikeout Cancer” beginning at 5 p.m.

All proceeds from the game go to the American Family Children's Hospital.

The game will also be carried live on 100.5 FM. Dennis Semrau and Jesse Nelson will have the radio call of the game.


June 1


Middleton …………….…. 000 001 5 — 6 10 5

Janesville Craig ……….. 002 010 0— 3 8 3

Pitchers (ip-h-r-er-so-bb) — M: Zempel (W; 6.1-8-3-1-7-4), Pincombe (0.2-0-0-0-0-0); JC: Schenk (L; 6.2-6-3-2-10-1), Schork (0.1-4-3-3-1-0).

Leading hitters — M: Zempel 3x4 (2B), Williams 3x4; JC: Adams (3B), Schenk 3x4 (2B). At Riverside Park, Janesville.


June 2


Janesville Craig …………. 010 000 0 — 1 3 1

Middleton ………………….. 031 001 x— 5 6 1

Pitchers (ip-h-r-er-so-bb) — JC: Ryan (L; 6-6-5-4-3-3); M: Williams (W; 7-3-1-1-3-3).

Leading hitters — M: Andler 3x3 (2B), Zempel (2B), Smith (3B).


June 3

Middleton 5, Janesville Parker 3

Middleton ………… 002 002 1—5 7 1

Janesville Parker ……. 100 101 0—3 6 3

Pincombe; King, Wilson (7)

Leading hitters—Williams (M) 2x3. 2B—Miller (P), Campbell (P), Sihabouth (P). 3B—Dunn (M), Zempel (M)

SO—Pincombe 3, King 5. BB—Wilson 2




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