LA CROSSE, Wis. – The Warriors didn’t get caught in the trap games Wednesday, and now will play for the North Star Athletic Association championship.
With a big weekend series at home against Bellevue looming, the Waldorf baseball team didn’t look past their mid-week foe, taking care of business at Viterbo with a pair of 4-1 victories over the V-Hawks in an NSAA doubleheader.
The wins ensured the Warriors a shot at the league title as they host the Bruins on Saturday and Sunday in a pair of doubleheaders to end the regular season with the series winner claiming the NSAA crown.
“Our pitching staff did a great job today trusting their stuff and attacking their hitters,” Waldorf head coach Joe Tautges said.
“We got bunts down when we needed to and manufactured runs in both games by putting pressure on them defensively,” he added. “It was a tough day to score with the wind blowing in, but our hitters grinded through it and did enough to get a couple of wins.”
Waldorf’s pitching trio of Mac Pearson, Nicholas Ray, and Nic Tebeau led the way in the opener, teaming up for a four-hit, eight strikeout victory that saw Ray (1-1) get the win with three scoreless innings of relief.
Scoreless through six innings, the Warriors (28-16 overall, 18-2 NSAA) put the pressure on the host V-Hawks as Brett Stenlund singled, then back-to-back bunts by Garrett Gillen and Cal Fazzio loaded the bases, with Gillen reaching on a base hit and Fazzio on an error.
Matthew Garcia then opened the scoring with an RBI sacrifice fly to left for the 1-0 lead.
That lead grew to 4-0 as the Warriors re-loaded the bases in the top of the eighth inning on a pair of bunt bases hits and an error, then Stenlund drove all three runners home with a double.
The V-Hawks (16-20, 10-10) got a run in the bottom of the ninth, but no closer.
Waldorf didn’t wait until the late innings to get things rolling in the nightcap as Ca Fazzio doubled and Garcia singled, putting runners at the corners in the top of the second inning.
Both scored on a wild pick-off throw, putting the Warriors on top 2-0.
Waldorf pitchers Heath Chapman, Nick Perfetto, and Andrew Benns made sure the early lead held up, scattering six hits and teaming up to strike out six Viterbo batters, closing out the doubleheader sweep. Chapman (5-1) earned the win with four scoreless innings on the hill, and Benns earned his ninth save pitching a scoreless seventh.
Alejandro Gonzalez padded the early edge with a 2-run single in the top of the fifth inning for a 4-0 Warrior lead, while the V-Hawks lone run came in the bottom half of the frame.
Stenlund led the Warrior offense in the opener, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Gonzalez and Fazzio each went 2-for-3 in the nightcap.
Now Waldorf closes the regular season with a four-game battle against Bellevue (35-14, 19-1) for the NSAA title on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s doubleheader is set to begin at 1 p.m., and Sunday’s twinbill is scheduled for noon.
Along with being a title tussle, the weekend also will be an eventful as the Warriors will honor nine seniors on Sunday for “Senior Day,” and Waldorf will look to give its head coach, Tautges, career win No. 100, as he sits at 98 victories after Wednesday’s sweep.
Story by: Mike Stetson