BRODHEAD — Lakeside Lutheran’s baseball team used the phrase “shock the world” during its playoff push.
The fifth-seeded Warriors notched three road victories to reach sectionals.
Lakeside had a 1-run lead through five innings as they looked to advance to within a game of state.
Top-seeded Markesan then scored three runs in the sixth and added three in the seventh to defeat the Warriors 6-1 in a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal game at Brodhead High School on Tuesday.
After a 2-win Capitol North campaign, the Warriors found their groove. The team won six of its last seven and seven of its last nine to close the season.
“That was kind of the highlight how we came in as a No. 5 seed and just were able to make it this far when people didn’t expect much out of us throughout the season,” Lakeside Lutheran junior Carter Schneider said. “It was a pretty great experience.”
After sophomore Nathan Chesterman singled and senior catcher Carter Buchta walked, the Warriors (12-11) had the bases loaded with two down in the first. Junior Logan Pampel, who reached on a dropped third strike passed ball, stole second while Chesterman took off for home. The throw to second was late and Chesterman scored easily for the games first run.
Lakeside managed only two more hits while committing two errors.
“Their pitchers threw well and kept us off-balance,” Lakeside Lutheran baseball coach Phil Dretske said. “Their fielders were right there to make the play and didn’t make any mistakes. We made a few (mistakes) and they cost us.”
Junior Alex Ryan struck out eight, walked one and allowed one earned over six innings.
“My curveball felt really good and the defense behind me was playing great,” Ryan said of his outing.
The right-hander threw 98 pitches, giving up eight hits and was cruising until getting tagged for three runs in the sixth.
“I was feeling good up until that inning, I struggled a little bit,” Ryan said. “They had great at-bats. They constantly just kept working the counts and did a great job of making me locate pitches or they were going to hit the ball hard.”
Markesan (21-5) added three more off sophomore Gabe Uttech in the seventh before Chesterman struck out three, walking one to end the frame.
“He was pitching well and working the counts well,” Dretske said of Ryan’s effort. “We just ran out of gas a little bit. Their guys started hitting the ball hard. Give them credit, they’re a good ball club. They found gaps.”
Lakeside was outhit 8-3 and left 12 runners on the base. The team stranded eight in scoring position.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our bats going when we had runners in scoring position,” Dretske said. “We left too many guys at second and third base the whole game.”
The Hornets were able to get out of jams with runners on second and third in the first and third innings. Lakeside had baserunners in each frame but couldn’t find gaps to bring people around.
“It was kind of momentum in a way. After they kind of shut us down (at the end of) the first inning, I wouldn’t say we got down, we weren’t in it like we were in the first inning,” Schneider said. “We left runners on base. We hit the ball but couldn’t convert when we needed it most.”
Lakeside departs three seniors in Buchta, hard-hitting Michael Freson and Tyler Degner.
“All the seniors are great guys and I loved having them in the dugout and at practices,” Ryan said. “We’re going to have a lot of good players coming back next year. The big thing with our team is we have a lot of fun.
“When we have fun, we play well. I’m very thankful I have this group of guys to play with.”
Lakeside eliminated Belleville and Orfordville Parkview in back-to-back days to reach a place many hadn’t envision them being.
“It’s pretty incredible how we came this far,” Ryan said. “There were a lot of teams that counted us out. We had a rough start to the season, but we did a great job of being resilient and coming back to play great in the playoffs. I’m very proud of the guys.”
Schneider enjoyed this team’s journey.
“It was honestly a blessing and just a blast all season,” Schneider said. “The coaches helped me and put me in a position where they thought I would succeed the most. It was an enjoyment to be a part of this team.”
Lakeside peaked at the right time and played for the guys standing beside them.
“(I’ll rememember) how well they played together as a team at the end of the season,” Dretske said. “They were playing for each other which was great to see. Picking each other up and cheering each other on when they were down struggling. Just a good group of guys, we’ll be ready to bounce back next year.”
The Warriors’ roster will be mostly intact as they looked to build off this year’s run next spring.
“Give these guys a lot of credit for bouncing back after a rough part of the season,” Dretske said.
Markesan beat Prairie du Chien in the sectional final 3-1 to qualify for next week’s state tournament.
MARKESAN 6, LAKESIDE LUTHERAN 1
Markesan 000 003 3 — 6 8 2
Lakeside 100 000 0 — 1 3 2
WP: S. Ryan
LP: A. Ryan
Pitching (ip-h-er-bb-so) — M, Leedle 4-2-0-4-5, S. Ryan 2-0-0-2-2, Plagenz 1-1-0-0-0; LL, A. Ryan 6-8-1-1-8, Uttech 0.0-0-1-2-0, Chesterman 1-0-0-1-3
Leading hitters — Stellmacher (M) 2x2, 2B, Dillie (M) 2x4