JANESVILLE - The No. 1-seeded Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth on Wednesday to rally past the No. 5-seeded Martin County West Mavericks, 4-2, during Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal baseball action.
The Bulldogs (14-1) host No. 2-seeded Mankato Loyola in the South Sub-Section championship at 5 p.m. today in Janesville.
The Mavericks (9-5) play No. 3-seeded Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in a 5 p.m. elimination game today in Lake Crystal.
SNAP THROW — Martin County West second baseman Alex Biehn flips a throw to first baseman Alex Saxen during Section 2A, South Sub-Section baseball action Wednesday in Janesville. (Photo by Kjestine Steinbring)
The Mavericks held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Sawyer Gahler walked to lead off the bottom of the fifth for the Bulldogs before taking second when Kyle Fisel drew a walk.
Gahler then stole third, and pinch runner Josh Janike stepped in for Fisel, to put runners on first and third with one out.
Tom Gannon then delivered a single up the middle to score Gahler and keep runners on first and second.
Ricky Johnson then continued the Bulldogs' late rally, smacking a hit at Maverick shortstop Jake Faber, who bobbled the ball to load the bases.
Maverick reliever Tony Payne struck out Zach Janike for the second out of the inning, before Walker Miller smoked a hit to the fence.
Miller's hit scored Josh Janike from third and Gannon from second, but as Johnson raced for third, Maverick catcher Toby Haugen threw a rocket to Dalton Koenecke, who tagged out Johnson.
"They are a good ball club, that's why they have the top seed in the bracket," said Martin County West head coach Cody Leiding. "They had some good hits, we had some good hits, but they made the routine plays and we missed a couple. And that's all it takes."
Gahler, who pitched all seven innings, allowed two runs on seven hits and striking out six to earn the win. Gahler shut down the Mavericks in the sixth and seventh to hold on for the win.
Brandon Williamson, the Mavericks' starter, kept the Bulldogs off the board early, pitching 4 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and striking out four in a no decision.
"I was really proud of Brandon and how he pitched today," said Leiding. "For coming into a big game like this and pitching that well, that was really great for him to do that."
While Williamson was pitching, Faber contributed some big hits to drive in the Maverick runs.
Williamson led off the top of third inning with the game scoreless.
The Maverick southpaw drew a walk, before Parker Leiding laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Williamson to second.
Faber then delivered the first of his two RBI hits with a single into the outfield.
Williamson raced home on the hit, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
With Faber on first, Haugen struck out for the second out of the inning, before Payne walked to put runners on first and second.
Unfortunately, the Mavericks were unable to add to their lead in the inning.
"They were able to score every time they got runners into scoring position, but when we got runners into scoring position, a lot of times we couldn't get them in," Cody Leiding said in reference to their five runners left on base in the game.
In the fourth, the Bulldogs were able to tie the game when Johnson smacked a leadoff double.
Pinch runner Joey Stockman then swiped third to get into scoring position.
Zach Janike flew out to the Maverick second baseman, but Walker Miller drew a walk to put runners on first and third.
Designated hitter Keegan Priebe then delivered a critical hit, sizzling a shot to left to score Johnson.
The Mavericks responded in the fifth though, retaking the lead 2-1.
Williamson took first after being hit on a Gahler delivery.
Parker Leiding then grounded into a fielder's choice, before Faber again came up with the critical hit, cranking one of Gahler's pitches into the gap in the outfield.
Leiding motored all the way home from first to give the Mavericks the one-run lead going into the bottom of the fifth.
Fisel finished 2-for-2 for the Bulldogs, while Gannon, Johnson and Priebe each went 1-for-3.
Payne took the loss for the Mavericks, pitching the final 1 2/3 innings and allowing two runs - none earned - on three hits and striking out one.
MCW 001 010 0 - 2 3 2
JWP 000 130 x - 4 7 0
Brandon Williamson, Tony Payne 5 (LP) and Toby Haugen. Sawyer Gahler (WP) and Tristan Kroll.
LOB-MCW 5, JWP 7. 2B-Jake Faber (MCW), Ricky Johnson (JWP). SAC-Parker Leiding (MCW).