Oconto Captures State Title
Slips Past Westby 4-3 For First Championship In School History
The fourth trip proved to be a charm as Oconto captured the schools first-ever state championship in any sport with a nail-biting 4-3 win over Westby (21-5) in the Division 3 finals Thursday. The victory, coupled with an identical 4-3 besting of Osseo-Fairchild (16-8) Wednesday in the semifinals, put the finishing touches on a brilliant 16-4 diamond campaign. And of course, the schools first gold trophy.
The never-say-die Blue Devils didnt make things easy on themselves or their fans at state. In both games, Oconto trailed 3-0 in the top of the third inning before rallying for those 4-3 wins. In Thursdays title clash, Oconto overcame 8 fielding miscues to capture the state gold.
Our kids certainly didnt make it easy on anybody. They are a very resilient group and just keep on plugging away. In the finals, I told the kids we have been here before, being down, lets get to work, said coach Brian Sohrweide, who is a 1986 graduate of the school.
Oconto Rally To Claim
4-3 Semifinal Victory
Making their fourth state trip and first since 2003, the Blue Devils fell behind Osseo-Fairchild 3-0 in the third inning and were still on the short end heading into the sixth. But that is when things started to turn around.
Brandon Bahde drew a leadoff walk and freshman Grant Frazer doubled to centerfield with one out. Trent Mehlberg followed with a two-run double while Kyle Krueger got Oconto even with a RBI single.
That 3-3 deadlock lasted until the 8th when Oconto put together its winning rally. Mehlberg lashed his second hit of the game, a single to left. Krueger walked and Teague Camps moved both runners up 90 feet with a bunt. After Blake Campshure was intentionally walked, Bryce Bostedt ended the game when the rightfielder misplayed his fly ball which would have been a sac fly regardless, to score Mehlberg with the game winner.
We were way too anxious early in the game and chasing balls out of the strike zone. I thought if we were more patient, we could get guys on and get things going, Sohrweide said.
Freshman Frazer hurled all 8 innings for Oconto to earn the mound win, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with 3 walks and two strikeouts.
Blue Devils Shake Off
8 Blunders To Capture
Division 3 State Title
For the second straight game, the Blue Devils put themselves in a hole and managed to climb out of it. Taking on Westby in the championship game, Oconto nearly shot itself in the foot with an 8 error outing. Seven of those miscues were committed by the third inning, but thanks to a pair of double plays the Blue Devils were able to escape. Winning pitcher Tyler Trepanier had 4 errors, including a pair of errant pickoff attempts.
I am sure with nerves and the championship game, the ball ends up getting thrown around. We had our troubles and still managed to come out on top. What an awesome win for these kids, the school and the community., Sohrweide said.
Oconto ran into trouble in the top of the first frame as errors by Trepanier and third sacker Ricky Mataitis enabled Westby to load the bases with one out. No problem as the Blue Devil defense bailed Trepanier out with an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
Scoreless heading into the third frame, Westby combined 2 hits with 4 errors to pry open a 3-0 edge. Two more throwing miscues by Trepanier along with errors on Mataitis and centerfielder Tanner Pillsbury opened the floodgates while Tyler Ihrcke and Nick Neely added singles.
Oconto answered with a run in the bottom of the third as Pillsbury lashed a one-out single, moved to second on a passed ball and scored when Frazer dropped a single into right. Mehlberg kept the inning alive with a single only to see Krueger ground into a double play.
The Blue Devils used a two-out rally to take the lead for good in the 5th thanks to five hits and an error. Frazer and Mehlberg singled putting runners at the corners. Taking a gamble, coach Sohrweide put on the delayed steal sign with Mehlberg getting purposely caught in a rundown. The play worked to perfection as Frazer made a break for the plate and scored when the throw from second baseman Ihrcke sailed past the catcher.
Mehlberg ended up on third base and scored on a single off the bat of Krueger for a 3-3 deadlock. Pinch runner Cody Zahm went in for Krueger and crossed the plate with the go-ahead run as Blake Campshure sent a hard shot through the right side of the infield.
Krueger took over on the mound in the sixth and set Westby down 1-2-3.
Heading into the 7th, three outs separated Oconto from their first-ever title. And it didnt come easy....again!
Pillsbury snagged a flyball for the first out while Krueger mishandled a grounder back to the mound, which put Alex Bluske at first base for Ocontos 8th error of the game. No need to worry. Krueger coaxed Ihrcke to line out to Frazer at shortstop, who fired to Mehlberg at first base to complete the game-ending double play and set off a state title celebration.
Trepanier picked up the mound win with 5 innings or 5 hit and 3 run ball. Krueger earned the save with two scoreless innings of work.
The top three hitters in the Blue Devil lineup-Pillsbury, Frazer and Mehlberg along with Campshure punched out 2 hits each.
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