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Bombers stun Sauk Prairie


August 10, 2017

Putting runners on base wasn’t a problem for the second-seeded Sauk Prairie Twins in their Home Talent League playoff opener at Chuck Hall Memorial Field on Sunday.

Finding a way to tally runs on the scoreboard, well, that was a different story.

Black Earth used a two-run rally in the eighth inning to pull out a 3-2 victory over host Sauk Prairie and deal the Twins a disappointing end to their season.

“We hit the ball so well on Sundays the last seven weeks. That’s the hard thing about the Home Talent one-and-done playoffs,” Sauk Prairie player/manager Lucas Koenig said. “You have one day where the bats aren’t quite right and you get knocked out and that was today.”

The Twins (13-4) were looking for a return trip to the HTL Final Four, where they finished second last season. They had defeated Black Earth 9-2 at home on May 21 and 12-0 at Black Earth on July 16.

But the Bombers flipped the script when the stakes were highest.

“They always play us really, well. It’s always a battle when we go against them,” said Twins’ second baseman Dylan Slotty, who reached base three times. “Today they made a lot of plays.

“We couldn’t barrel the ball up when we needed to and hit into double plays when we didn’t need to. It was tough. We were right there. It just didn’t go our way today.”

The Bombers (9-8) snapped Sauk Prairie’s seven-game winning streak and dealt them their first loss in Sunday League play since Sauk Prairie dropped an 8-0 decision to visiting Middleton on June 23.

Seventh-seeded Black Earth advanced to play at top-seeded Middleton (15-2) on Sunday in the Northern Section semifinals.

Sauk Prairie grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Alex Mayer reached base on a fielder’s choice, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error and scored when Chase Suchla grounded out to first.

Black Earth quickly answered in the top of the third inning after Tyler Krause ripped a double to right-center field, moved to third on Shane Meyer’s sacrifice and scored on Rob Capener’s sacrifice fly to right field.

Krause just got under the tag of catcher Lucas Koenig on Trent Sorg’s strong throw from right field.

“It was close, but he beat it,” Sorg said. “That was a tough play.”

The Twins grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on Benjamin’s Lenerz’s RBI-single to right field that scored Slotty, who reached base when he was hit by a pitch.

But that was all the offense Sauk Prairie could muster, hitting into two double plays and stranding nine runners.

“That’s baseball. Even the best teams win two-thirds of the time. So, the one-and-done does make it tough,” Lucas Koenig said. “They didn’t make the errors down the stretch. They picked the ball up and made the plays. We just didn’t hit the ball that well today.”

Anthony Hoeschele jump-started the Bombers’ rally in the top of the eighth inning when he reached base on an infield error. Two outs later, Capener tied the game with a booming double to right-center field.

Curtis Barsness then drove in the game-winner with a double to right-center field that fell in when center fielder Suchla and Sorg collided while attempting to make a play.

Black Earth manager Eric Duhr said the Bombers believed they could get the job done despite their recent slump.

“It’s one-and-done, that’s the message I told the guys before the game,” he said. “It’s a brand, new season. We went three straight weeks without scoring a run. We got shutout three straight games before today.

“But it was like opening day today. I said we were going to do it today, and we did. I’ll take my chances with the guys I’ve got.”

Right-hander Marcus Caminitti tossed a complete game for Black Earth, allowing six hits and one earned run with four walks and three hit batters.

“Give their pitcher credit. He threw a really, nice game,” Lucas Koenig said. “But we faced him three weeks ago, and ran the score up on him.

“That’s the other frustrating part, we hit him really, well three weeks ago, and (today) we probably didn’t have one hard, hit ball.”

Starter Taylor Koenig tossed five innings, allowing one run on two hits with three strikeouts. Sorg came on in relief in the sixth and retired all six batters he faced with two strikeouts before Sam Koenig took over in the eighth and allowed two unearned runs with two strikeouts.

“The pitching was excellent. That was the playbook I was hoping for, for the playoffs,” Lucas Koenig said. “Tay got through the lineup twice, and he had the best stuff, by far, that he’s had all year. Those first five innings, like ‘all right, he’s back on top of his game.’

“Sorg came in and laid it all out there and they didn’t touch him. Sam came out there and Capener got him a little bit on that one after an error and what can you say about Rob Capener.”

The Twins didn’t have an answer for Capener, who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 spindle cell sarcoma, an aggressive and rare cancer that attacks cells in muscle and bone tissue.

Yet while undergoing chemotherapy, Capener has continued to play for the Bombers, making an impact at the plate, in the field and on the mound all season.

“He scored the game-winning run. He led off the game with a base hit. He played great at shortstop,” Duhr said of Capener, who will represent the Bombers along with teammate Jed Traxler in the Home Talent League All-Star Game on Friday night. “Honestly, words can’t describe Rob.

“He brought tears to my eyes during the game. It’s so emotional, and I feel so good for him. It’s been so unreal this year.”

Capener said he is just taking it a day at a time, playing a game he loves.

“It was a great day,” he said with a smile. “It’s a great bunch of guys and we’re happy to still be playing.”

Lucas Koenig said while it hurt to have the Twins’ championship hopes dashed, it was a bittersweet ending.

“He’s crushed us all year. From the first game in Night League, he had a walk-off hit on us. He just hit the ball hard every at bat,” Koenig said of Capener. “With what he’s going through, it’s really, cool, but on the other side it’s frustrating losing.”

Black Earth 3, Sauk Prairie 2

Black Earth ....... 001 000 020 – 3 5 1

Sauk Prairie ….. 010 100 000 – 2 6 3

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) – BE: Marcus Caminitti (W, 9-6-1-4-0); SP: Taylor Koenig (5-2-1-0-3), Trent Sorg (2-0-0-0-2), Sam Koenig (L, 2-3-0-0-2).

Leading hitters – BE: Rob Capener (2x3). 2B – Tyler Krause, Rob Capener, Curtis Barsness (BE).


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