Prep Baseball Round-up: Eleva-Strum chasing a title in shadow of playoffs
With four Dairyland Conference games to go, the Eleva-Strum Central High School Baseball Team finds itself a game out of first place in the standings after leading the league last week.
The Cardinals at 11-3 overall while Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran is 12-2. Alma/Pepin is 11-4, Whitehall 9-5 and Independence/Gilmanton 9-6.
E-S will get a final crack at ECIL on May 24 at Carson Park in Eau Claire but to make that game meaningful they have to win three contests before then, a doubleheader at Melrose-Mindoro this Thursday, May 19 and at home vs. Augusta on Monday, May 23.
The Cards have been up and down in recent games over last week on this. They won at home vs. Whitehall back on Tuesday, May 10 by 1-0 score but lost to the Norse in Whitehall 8-5 on Tuesday despite Tyler Webb's three runs and an RBI. May 17. Central had back-to-back no hitters on the road against Indy/Gilmanton 2-1 on Friday, May 13 thanks to Webb and 21-0 at Lincoln on Monday, May 16 but they also lost to Alma/Pepin 5-4 on Thursday, May 12.
This uneven play doesn't diminish what Central has accomplished this season with a 13-4 overall record. It's earned them a No. 1 seed in their WIAA Division 4 regional tournament bracket and a No. 10 state ranking. Eleva-Strum has a first round bye and will host either No. 4 seed Cochrane-Fountain City (6-14) or No. 5 Blair-Taylor (5-12) in the regional semifinal on May 31 in Strum at Spangberg Field at 5 p.m.
Other Tri-County Area teams have received their tournament pairings as well. Augusta and Osseo-Fairchild are grouped together in a WIAA Division 3 regional tournament bracket which has them both playing first round games on May 26 at home. No. 3 seed Osseo-Fairchild hosts No. 6 seed Neillsville (4-8) and No. 4 seed Augusta has No. 5 seed Onalaska Luther (5-15).
The Thunder are scheduled to play at Neillsville next Monday, May 23 in a regional sneak preview. O-F hopes to be above .500 before the tournament and can be if they win at Arcadia on Thursday, May 19 and beat Neillsville. They won their last game, their last regular season home game 7-1 over Durand at Soiney Field on Tuesday, May 17. Winning pitcher Ashton Oliver tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and the Thunder had 11 hits led by Tryggve Korger's two, Brody Seefelt's three, including a double and Blake Johnson's two. O-F concluded West Cloverbelt play on Monday, May 16 with an 8-06 loss at Cadott. O-F was held to just four hits by winning pitcher Warren Bowe as they finish with a 4-8 league record. They also lost a pair of close league contests last week, 4-5 to eventual champion Eau Claire Regis on Thursday, May 12 in Eau Claire and 4-5 again 24 hours later at Stanley-Boyd. The Ramblers trailed 4-0 but rallied for the win in the late innings. Spencer Osmonson led O-F with two hits and an RBI, Oliver had two hits, Zach Rosman smacked a double and also getting hits were Brogan Korger, Keyton Boettcher and Seefeldt. Against the Orioles, O-F again was unable to hold a lead as S-B scored a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Osmonson had two hits, including a double, and an RBI and Seefeldt hit a two-RBI triple.
Augusta, 8-9 overall, is also just under .500 heading into the final moments of the regular season. Last week they split a doubleheader at home with Alma/Pepin on Tuesday, May 10 by scored of 5-2 and 0-3. The Beavers blanked Whitehall on Friday, May 13 at Whitehall 10-0,. Brennan King was the winning pitcher with teammate C. Leslin going 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and RBI and N. Taylor getting two hits and two RBIs. King himself drove in three runs and also had a hit. The Norse were hurt by committing four errors. However, AHS has lost its last two games, 12-8 to Blair-Taylor at home Monday, May 16 and 12-7 to Immanuel, also at home, Tuesday, May 17.