Baseball Cardinals win regional title

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Hayden Hellenbrand (3) and Middleton’s baseball team rallied past DeForest in a regional final on June 17./Photo courtesy of Lori Hellenbrand

There was no panic, no anxiety.

They remained calm, composed and aggressive all at once.

And because of it, Middleton’s baseball team advanced to a WIAA Division 1 sectional for the first time since 2018.

The Cardinals rallied from a deficit on three different occasions and toppled DeForest, 7-5, in a regional final on June 17. Middleton improved to 18-9, while DeForest finished the year 19-4.

“We were down early in the game but we didn't panic, stayed consistent with our approach, and continued to put the pressure on Deforest,” Middleton manager Brent Jorgensen said. “Overall, it was a great win and the boys came to play with great energy.”

Middleton trailed, 3-2, heading to the sixth inning when it took the lead for good.

With two outs, Nolan Smith singled to right, then David Meier and Hayden Hellenbrand both walked. Hellenbrand was then caught in a rundown after leaning too far off of first base. Hellenbrand stayed alive long enough, though, allowing courtesy runner Bryce Hensen and Meier to score and give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.

Middleton then tacked on three more runs in the seventh and stretched its lead to 7-3.

Stephen Paulsen opened the inning with a base hit. Matthew Zimmerman pinch ran for Paulsen and scored on a double by Eric Pongratz.

Two batters later, Aidan Williams singled to center to score Pongratz. And two batters after that, Nolan Dunn reached on an error that plated another run and gave Middleton a 7-3 lead.

Williams threw six innings and allowed just one earned run to pick up the win. Williams gave up four hits, walked four and struck out six.

“Aidan pitched extremely well for us again,” Jorgensen said. “He battled on the mound all night, made a diving catch early in the game, and had a huge hit in the sixth inning to get us another insurance run.

“We had a lot of guys step up throughout the game to make plays and keep things moving in the right direction, but the most impactful thing was our energy and hustle. We scored an additional three runs in the last two innings just from going ‘all out’ and taking extra bases.”

Middleton trailed, 1-0, after two innings, then tied things in the top of the third when Pongratz belted a home run just before a one-hour weather delay.

“A huge boost,” Jorgensen said of Pongratz’s blast.

DeForest went ahead, 2-1, in the bottom of the third. Middleton then tied the game, 2-2, in the top of the fourth when Meier’s double plated Nolan Smith.

After DeForest reclaimed the lead in the fifth, Middleton closed the game in style.

Pongratz finished the night 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Smith went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, while Meier had an RBI double, a walk and scored a run.

Middleton advanced to Monday’s Baraboo Sectional, where it met Madison Memorial in a semifinal game.

“This is an exciting time of year and I am thrilled that our guys have an opportunity to play Monday with a chance to punch our ticket to the state tournament,” Jorgensen said. “It'll be a huge challenge for us, but I believe in our guys. We can do it.”


June 17


Middleton ……….. 001 102 3 — 7 9 3

DeForest …………….. 011 010 2 — 5 7 2

Pitchers (ip-h-r-er-so-bb) — M: Williams (W; 6.0-5-4-2-6-4), Pincombe (1.0-2-1-1-1-1); D: Hauser (4.1-5-2-2-2-3), Jansen (L; 1.2-1-2-2-0-3), Hawk (0.1-3-3-1-0-1), Grall (0.2-0-0-0-0-0).

Leading hitters — M: Pongrantz 2x3 (HR), Meier (2B), Smith (2x3); D: Olson 3x4 (2B), Hauser (2B). At Waunakee.



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