The Antigo Red Robins scored early and late in a 12-7 win over the Northwestern High School baseball team in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game Tuesday, June 4, at Cinder City Park in Altoona.
Antigo scored five runs in the first inning and Brady Renfro’s grand slam came in a six-run seventh as the Red Robins (19-5) rallied past the Tigers then went on to advance to the state tournament with a 7-0 win over Tomah.
The Tigers’ season ends with a record of 18-4.
“Overall, we’re pretty disappointed we weren't able to finish the win,” NHS coach Jovin Kroll said. “We were three outs away, and I know that is frustrating for all of us to get that close. But Antigo is an exceptional team, they were a sectional finalist a year ago in Division 1 and they brought back some really good players this year who didn't panic when they were down to their last at-bat.”
With the Tigers leading 7-6, Antigo sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh and took a 10-7 lead on Renfro's grand slam.
The Red Robins added two more runs when Nevin Cornelius walked and scored on an error and Neil Bretil’s single scored Elliot Orgeman.
“As time goes on, our kids will be able to appreciate what they accomplished this year,” Kroll said. “It was our first regional title in 34 years, only our third HON crown as well, and they were the first baseball team from Northwestern to win both an HON Conference and regional title in the same year.
“We are one of the smallest schools in D2, so we held our own against some much larger programs.”
Antigo also sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning, starting with an Eli Fleischman single and Brady Renfro double. After the Tigers recorded the second out, the Red Robins strung together five straight singles to take a 5-0 lead.
The Tigers got one run back in the bottom of the first when Jake Brill was hit by a pitch, Nolan Gustafson and Justin Sedin reached on errors and Carson Holsclaw hit an RBI single.
Northwestern tied it up in the second when Dylan Ronchi, Brill and Gustafson singled with one out and scored on Sedin's grand slam.
The Tigers took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Ronchi and Brill singled, and after a strikeout, Ronchi scored on a single by Sedin.
Antigo tied it up in the fifth on Fleischman's two-out RBI single, but the Tigers regained a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Brennan Werner doubled and scored on singles by Kole Paulsen and David Wakefield.
Antigo outhit Northwestern 19-16 and both teams committed four errors.
Sedin finished the game 3-for-4 with a grand slam, and his five RBIs give him 50 on the season, which is tops in Wisconsin.
Also for the Tigers, Holsclaw was 2-for-4 with an RBI; Brill had two hits and scored two runs; Paulsen singled twice; and Werner doubled.
“Sedin was great again at the plate, I haven't seen a hitter better than him in my time as a player or coach,” Kroll said. “Unfortunately, he had some high-pitch innings early that led to him only lasting five, but the 100 pitch limit is the rule, and credit goes to Antigo for winning the game.”
Orgeman led Antigo by going 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored. Nevin was 3-for-3 with an RBI; Renfro added a double to his grand slam; Bretl had two hits and two RBIs; Fleischman had two hits and an RBI; Jordan Arrowood doubled, singled and knocked in a run; and Eric Langseth and Sebastian Noskowiak both had two hits.
Sedin, Brill and Andrew Klobucher pitched for the Tigers. They combined to strike out five, walk seven and hit a batter.
Noskowiak, Fleischman and Renfro struck out nine and walked one for Antigo. The also hit one batter.
Playing for the final time for the Tigers were Holsclaw, Gervase Thompson IV and Sedin.
“We will miss those three next year, but there is a very strong nucleus of baseball players returning in 2020,” Kroll said. “The team can get back to this level, but they need to put in the time to continue to improve.
“We're all proud of what the boys accomplished this year, and the hope is that quality teams become the norm with our baseball program.”
TIGER TALES: Webster's Jack and Owen Washburn are second in the state in RBIs with 45 apiece. ... Sedin is also fifth in the state with 41 hits and sixth with six home runs. ... Brill is sixth with 40 hits. Holsclaw is eighth with 37 hits and Nolan Gustafson is 11th with 35 hits.