The ninth-seeded Verona baseball team’s tournament run came to an end one game short of state Tuesday, June 4, with a 10-0 loss to Sun Prairie in a WIAA Division 1 sectional championship at Breitenbach Field in Middleton.
The Wildcats advanced to sectionals for the sixth straight year. Verona had won six consecutive games heading into the final.
Senior Regan Klawiter pitched a gem to lead Verona to a 4-1 win over Madison Memorial in a sectional semifinal Tuesday morning. Previously, the Wildcats upset defending state champion Waunakee, the top seed, on the road in a regional championship Thursday, May 30.
“They didn’t want to let the streak (of sectional appearances) die,” coach Brad D’Orazio said. “It sucks that five of them we watched another team celebrate. I couldn’t be prouder of what we have done and the run we were on.”
It’s the third time this year the Wildcats have been shut out by the Cardinals this season.
“We just ran into a buzz-saw kind of a team that can just flat out hit the ball,” D’Orazio said. “They were putting pressure on us the whole time. Give them credit. We got beat by a better team today.”
Verona finished the season 15-12 overall, and knocked off Waunakee for the second time this season.
“It was one of the best played and pitched games that I have been a part of,” D’Orazio said.
After winning its first four games this season, Verona lost eight straight. The Wildcats were one of the hotter teams down the stretch, going 11-4 the second half of the season.
“We had a great group of guys that really banded together, especially against Oregon,” Senior Brooks Brazeau said. “We knew if we play the way we know we can play, we can compete with anybody. We decided to show up at the right time.”
Brazeau said Verona proved a lot of people wrong in the postseason.
“Even my closest friends were like you are going to lose to Waunakee and you’re going to lose to Memorial and your season is over,” Brazeau said. “Our big thing was why not us.”
Sun Prairie 10, Verona 0 (6 inn.)
Verona used three pitchers but could not cool down the Sun Prairie bats as the Cardinals slugged their way to a 10-0 six-inning win over Verona on Tuesday in a sectional final game.
The Cardinals had 10 hits. The Wildcats committed five errors that led to four unearned runs.
Sun Prairie sophomore Liam Moreno had a two-run single in the second inning to stake the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead. The Cardinals broke the game open with a four-run third.
Verona sophomore Jacob Kisting started on the mound and gave up six runs on five hits. Junior Joe Ducharme pitched two innings in relief and retired five straight batters before giving up an unearned run.
“I think they were pressing a little bit, and a couple of those snowballed,” D’Orazio said. “We played Sun Prairie three times this year and didn’t score a run. I feel like they were feeling the pressure.
Sun Prairie junior Matt DePrey pitched a complete game and held the Wildcats to three hits.
Freshman first baseman Garrett Hoppe had a single in the second. Brazeau singled in the fourth and sophomore shortstop Ryan Taylor singled in the sixth. The Cardinals turned double plays in the fourth and sixth to avoid any jams.
Verona 4, Memorial 1
Before playing Madison Memorial on Tuesday morning, Klawiter studied film of other games the Spartans had played and noticed they like to hunt for a fastball early in the count.
So Klawiter, an Illinois State recruit, mixed it up, throwing more sliders and curveballs on the first pitch on his way to a three-hitter as Verona beat the Spartans 4-1 in a sectional semifinal game.
“Mixing in both of my breaking balls was effective,” Klawiter said.
Klawiter pitched a complete game and gave up one run. He struck out five and walked three.
Taylor blasted a three-run home run to right field off Memorial starter Kole Kerkhoff in the third to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
Taylor said he was looking for a pitch on the outside corner.
“He’s a good pitcher, and you have to respect him,” Taylor said. “He got a fastball inside. I tried to swing through it, keep my hands in and hope for the best.”
Senior Tyler McWilliams also drove in a run with an infield single.
Brazeau went 2-for-4.
Freshman third baseman Nick West was on base three of the four times he batted, going 1-for-2 with a walk and hit by pitch.
Verona 1, Waunakee 0 (11 inn.)
Sophomore second baseman James Rae had a game-winning RBI double in the 11th inning on Thursday to knock off Waunakee 1-0.
Sam Pederson and Klawiter threw eight no-hit innings and limited the Warriors to one hit in the shutout.
Klawiter started, and the lefty pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings. He struck out seven and walked two. Pederson pitched 4 2/3 innings in relief to earn the win. He gave up no runs on one hit, struck out three and walked one.
Rae went 2-for-4.