Baseball: Errors cost Niagara in sectional loss

Gibraltar scores 9 runs in 2nd for 9-2 semifinal win

Niagara's Ethan Sweig, left, and Logan Carlson go for a fly ball during a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal against Gibraltar on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Crivitz, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

CRIVITZ, Wis. — The bad inning struck again.

Niagara made two errors and gave up nine runs in the second inning of a 9-2 loss to Gibraltar in the WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal on Tuesday.

The Badgers (9-9) answered with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning but never recovered from the long top half, which lasted 25 minutes.

Niagara had just two hits after the second.

“One bad inning. Gave them nine runs in one inning and don’t score any more,” Niagara head coach Dean Neveau. “If we scored two runs and shut them down that one inning, we win the game.”

Niagara's Landen Kaldor dodges a pitch during a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal against Gibraltar on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Crivitz, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Niagara pitcher Anthony Hansen walked the first two batters of the second. Luke Steebs bunted the ball on the right side of the infield and Hansen fell while going for the ball, loading the bases with no outs. Hansen walked in a run, struck out Sam Lindenburg for the first out. Landen Kaldor took the mound after Hansen walked in the second bases-loaded run. Kaldor walked the first batter he faced and hit the second to make it a 7-0 game. The Vikings scored twice more before Niagara got out of the inning on a pop-up to shortstop Josh Weber.

“It’s nice to get that lead and then you know the bullseye is off our back,” Gibraltar head coach Jay Kita said. “If you get the lead here you can relax and play more comfortably.”

Gibraltar’s next two runs came on a sacrifice fly on a deep fly ball to center field hit by Trevor Reinhart. A slow relay allowed two runs to score from second and third on the tag.

“We did great and were patient in that one inning and scored nine runs,” Kita said. “As you can see, we can hit the ball, but it was right at the right fielder who was playing almost center field. Hats off to Niagara. They played very good baseball.”

Kita said the bunt that loaded the bases with no outs tilted momentum his team’s way.

Gibraltar pitcher Luke Steebs throws during a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal against Niagara on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Crivitz, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

“It’s a huge bunt. I like to play small ball. In the first inning I thought let’s let the kids hit,” Kita said. “I like to play a lot of small ball. The guys just gotta think it. If you got some guys that can’t move that fast on the mound and that, you can lay down a bunt. They believe in themselves when they bunt, so it’s nice. It got us fired up and it was good.”

The bunt was a missed opportunity to get an easy out, Neveau said.

“That’s an error. That’s an easy pickup throw out,” he said. “We got five walks in that inning, two beans and two errors. Get rid of our Mickey Mouse inning and we’re right there with the best in the state.”

The Vikings (12-13) lost 5-3 in the sectional final to Athens in the game following the semifinal against Niagara. Athens beat Greenwood 6-4 in the other semifinal.

Athens, going for its third straight state championship, faces Webster in the Division 4 state semifinals on June 12 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute. The state championship game is 9 a.m. the following day.

Niagara's Elliot Peterson bunts during a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal against Gibraltar on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Crivitz, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Hansen led off the bottom of the second with a double down the right field line. Tristan DeJardin doubled and Elliot Peterson scored both with a one-out single.

Niagara was turned away in order each of the last three innings on 25 combined pitches.

The Badgers stayed at the Crivitz High School field to watch the sectional final between Gibraltar and Athens. With a younger team than previous years, Neveau said the experience of playing deep in the tournament was valuable for underclassmen.

“They can see what it takes to win games,” Neveau said. “You can’t have them errors. The younger kids should get that out of here.”

Gibraltar 090 000 0 — 9 5 0

Gibraltar pitcher Luke Steebs fields a bunt by Niagara's Elliot Peterson during a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Crivitz, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

Niagara 020 000 0 — 2 5 4

LOB — Gibraltar 7, Niagara 2. ERR –Hansen, Peterson, Weber. 2B — DeJardin, Hansen. RBI — Peterson 2, T. Reinhardt 2, Laughlin 1, Szakala 1, G. Reinhardt 1, Steebs 1, Krause 1, Krauel 1. HBP — Laughlin, Stillman, Szakala (2). SACB — Lincoln, Bath. SB — Laughlin.

WP — Kaldor. SO — Lindenburg, Reinhardt (2), Szakala, Sweig, Sweig, Lincoln, Weber. BB — Lindenburg, Laughlin, Kranel (2), Stillman, Krause, Reinhardt (2), Kaldor.

T: 1:54

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