Losing two of final three league games doesnâ€™t keep CG-Belgium from winning 3rd straight CLC baseball title
A shaky end to the regular season didnâ€™t prevent the Cedar Grove-Belgium baseball team from winning its third straight Central Lakeshore Conference title last week.
Although the Rockets lost two of three games, they secured at least a share of the league crown by defeating Oostburg on July 3.
Sandwiched around the victory were losses to Sheboygan Lutheran/Kohler on July 1 and Ozaukee last Friday.
The week left Cedar Grove-Belgium with a 13-5 conference record, just ahead of runner-up Lutheran/Kohler (12-5). However, Lutheran/Kohler still had a chance to grab a share of the CLC title by winning a makeup game against Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah on July 8.
A 9-8 loss at Ozaukee prevented the Rockets from clinching an outright championship.
Cedar Grove-Belgium trailed, 9-1, after six innings but made things interesting by scoring seven runs â€” all with two outs â€” in the seventh.
In the final inning, Cedar Grove-Belgium sent 12 batters to the plate against Ozaukee starter Jeremy Wichmann and reliever Lee Wysocki. Four hits, three walks and an error pulled the Rockets within a run before Wysocki was able to get the final out (see related story).
Ozaukee won the season series against the Rockets, 2-1. Each game was a nail-biter, with Cedar Grove-Belgium losing the first meeting, 6-5, and winning the second, 7-5.
CG-Belgium 4, Oostburg 1
Drew Emperleyâ€™s strong arm sparked the host Rockets in their title-clinching win.
The junior pitched a complete game, allowing only one run on three hits. He struck out five and walked one.
â€śDrew pounded the strike zone and worked ahead of hitters, making it much easier to get outs,â€ť Rockets coach Mike Ruppel said. â€śOur backs were against the wall for a victory, and we talked about how bad we wanted to win a conference title.â€ť
Oostburg scored in the fourth on a single, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly.
Cedar Grove-Belgium built an early cushion by scoring once in the second inning and adding three runs in the third.
The Rocketsâ€™ offensive leaders were Spencer Bares (3-for-4) and Brett Michaels (2-for-3).
Lutheran/Kohler 17, CG-Belgium 2 (5 inn.)
The Rockets fell behind early and never recovered in a lopsided home loss.
Lutheran/Kohler collected 13 hits off starter Justin Obbink and reliever Tyler Falk.
Obbink allowed five runs in four innings, striking out two and walking five.
Falk gave up 12 runs in three innings. He struck out two and walked three.
Making Lutheran/Kohlerâ€™s job easier were three critical errors by the Rockets that allowed innings to continue.
Cedar Grove-Belgium managed only four hits, one apiece by Christian Oâ€™Donnell, Bares, Brandon Oâ€™Neil and Michaels.
â€śWe didnâ€™t come to play and didnâ€™t make plays when we needed,â€ť Ruppel said.
The Rockets received a No. 3 seed for the WIAA tournament that opened this week. They were scheduled to host Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah (No. 14) in a regional semifinal game Tuesday (see related story).
Image Information: MEMBERS OF THE Cedar Grove-Belgium baseball team discussed strategy during their Central Lakeshore Conference game against Ozaukee last week. A 9-8 loss cost the Rockets an outright conference championship, but they clinched a share of the title by defeating Oostburg two days earlier. Photo by Sam Arendt