West Bend West shows why it’s a title favorite by putting hammer to Rockets
After stumbling a bit late in the regular season, the Cedar Grove-Belgium baseball team regained its footing in the WIAA playoffs last week — at least for one game.imagCEDAR GROVE-BELGIUM pitcher Josh Ruppel got a regional win last week but took the loss in a sectional semifinal game Friday. Photo by Sam Arendt
West advanced to the sectional title game, where it crushed rival West Bend East, 12-0. The Spartans take a 25-5 record into this week’s state tournament, where
The Rockets defeated Campbellsport in a regional title game before having to face top-seeded West Bend West in the sectional semifinals Friday.
Host West, one of the favorites to win the state title, dashed Cedar Grove-Belgium’s postseason hopes by cruising to a 15-0 victory in a contest shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
An 11-run fourth inning put the Spartans firmly in control.
Despite the lopsided outcome, the fourth-seeded Rockets put up an early fight against a team from a school nearly four times as large as Cedar Grove-Belgium.
The Rockets, who lost their final two games of the regular season before taking care of Campbellsport, were poised for a fast start against West.
In the top of the first inning, Kyle Kirst drew a one-out walk, and Josh Ruppel and Darren Koopman hit line-drive singles to load the bases.
After West brought its infield in, Luke Kaat hit a bouncer between third base and shortstop. Third baseman Jack Meurer made a diving stop to his left, got up and threw out Kirst on a close play at the plate.
West retired the next hitter and dodged the early threat. Rockets coach Mike Ruppel said that sequence changed the momentum of the game.
Cedar Grove-Belgium didn’t get another base runner until Christian O’Donnell reached on a bunt single in the fifth.
Rockets starter Josh Ruppel cruised through the first two innings, retiring the Spartans in order and striking out two. After he allowed four runs on five hits in the third inning, the roof caved in during the fourth.
West scored 11 times on five hits and six walks. Kaat relieved Ruppel and didn’t retire a batter, and Koopman relieved Kaat for the final two outs of the inning.
Ruppel still managed to fan five West batters before exiting.
“They can hit the ball like no other team can,” the junior pitcher said of the Spartans.
“I made a few mistakes. I wasn’t throwing my curveball for a strike. They were sitting fastball, and they just ripped it.”
“I don’t think he was missing by much. It was breaking nice,” coach Ruppel said of his son’s performance.
“You can’t let a team like West Bend West just tee off on you, and that’s what they did.”
West starter Dylan Hinckley allowed two hits in four innings, striking out four and walking one.
At the plate, Hinckley was 2-for-3 with a grand slam and two-run homer.
Cedar Grove-Belgium finished the season 15-8.
they finished second last year.
West, the North Shore Conference champion, outscored its first three playoff opponents, 35-0, last week.
CG-Belgium 6, Campbellsport 2
The host Rockets scored their first postseason win since 1984 by taking care of the Cougars in a regional title game July 19.
The teams were tied at 2-2 early, but fourth-seeded Cedar Grove-Belgium pulled away by scoring four runs in the bottom of the second.
Strong all-around play by Josh Ruppel sparked the Rockets.
Ruppel pitched the first six innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out seven and walked five.
At the plate, Ruppel was 3-for-4 with a home run and a double.
Further bolstering the Rockets were T.J. Obbink, who went 2-for-4 and scored twice, and freshman Jeff Simmelink, who was 1-for-2 with a walk.
Simmelink, who was called up from the junior-varsity team for the playoffs, also made “three really nice plays in right field,” coach Ruppel said.
“I was very proud of how he stepped up because he was very, very nervous,” Ruppel added.
Kaat pitched the final inning, allowing one hit.
“We played a real clean game. We didn’t have any errors,” coach Ruppel said.
“We had nine hits. We had timely hitting. I thought the guys were very disciplined at the plate.”