Verona player-manager David Lund delivered a go-ahead RBI single, and Derek Burgenske crushed a home run to lead the Cavaliers to a 5-1 win over Blanchardville in the Home Talent League Western Section championship game on Sunday, Aug. 18, at Stampfl Field.
Defending HTL champion Verona (18-1) advanced to the championship round-robin series. It is the 12th time the Cavaliers have advanced to the championship series, who are looking for their seventh title.
Verona will play at Sauk Prairie on Sunday. The Cavaliers will then host Evansville on Sunday, Sept. 1, and host Sun Prairie on Sunday, Sept. 8.
“Every year our goal is to make it to the Final Four and win the whole thing,” said Lund, who is in his fourth Final Four with the Cavaliers. “The first step to making the Final Four is winning the West. It feels good, but we know we have three games left. We have to bring it and be a little better the next three weeks.”
Lund, who went 2-for-4, ripped his go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to kickstart the Cavaliers and break a 1-1 tie.
“I was just trying to go up there, put a good swing on the ball, and hopefully find a hole,” Lund said. “Luckily enough, I was able to find a barrel and find a hole.”
Luke Yapp later scored on a wild pitch, and Justin Scanlon delivered a two-run, two-out single to extend the Cavaliers’ lead to 5-1.
Derek Burgenske blasted a solo home run into the pine trees beyond right field in the bottom of the first to give the Cavaliers an early lead.
“I was feeling good in the cage and just wanted to carry it over to the game,” Burgenske said. “Their righty was throwing a little hard and I like that. I got a pitch to hit and elevated it.”
Blachardville’s Drew Schliem lined an RBI single to left past a diving Yapp at third base in the top of the sixth to score Colton Schraepfer and tie the game at 1.
Verona pitcher Kyle Nelson went seven innings and gave up one run on four hits. He struck out eight and did not issue a walk. Nelson has walked just two batters in his last five starts.
Nelson faced Blanchardville four weeks ago, and said he wanted to mix his pitches in order to get through the Bullets’ lineup multiple times.
“I knew they were going to attack my fastball,” he said. “I thought my changeup was my better offspeed pitch. It was working late in the game. I thought my curveball was backing up on me a little bit.”
Jason Erxleben pitched two shutout innings in relief. The Bullets loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Erxleben struck out Brooks Chandler to end the game.