For about eight hours, John Moyniahn and his Verona teammates raked the field dry, mixing it in with clumps of mud that had pooled around second base after a heavy rain.
The hard work paid off four-and-a-half hours later, when Moynihan blasted a grand slam to left field to power the Cavaliers to an 11-1, seven-inning win over Shullsburg/Benton in the Home Talent League’s Western Section semifinals on Sunday, Aug. 11, at Stampfl Field.
Moynihan went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Cavaliers. With the win, Verona (16-1) will host Blanchardville in the Western Section championship game on Sunday.
“It was definitely a team effort and we came out hot and started right away,” Moynihan said. “We have one goal in mind (repeat as HTL champions) and we are hustling after that.”
Justin Scanlon was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the first. Derek Burgenske then hit a grounder to second, but Scanlon beat the throw. Mike Jordahl lined a single to right to load the bases. Moynihan got a fastball and crushed it over the fence for a 4-0 Verona lead.
“I was just trying to get the job done and put the barrel on the ball,” he said. “It felt pretty nice off the barrel.”
Scanlon knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly in the second to extend the Cavaliers’ lead to 5-0. Shullsburg/Benton starting pitcher Lane Kamps lasted two innings and gave up five runs on two hits. He walked two and hit two.
After retiring five of the first seven batters he faced in relief, the Cavaliers got to Jacob Buendes in the fifth. Moynihan lined a single to left, and Lund delivered an RBI double down the right-field line. Luke Yapp then ripped an RBI double to left, and Nick Cheaney smoked an RBI double to left to give the Cavaliers an 8-1 lead.
Verona ended up with 10 hits.
Jordahl went 2-for-3, and Cheney was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Cheaney drove in a run with a single to right in the seventh, and Lund also knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice. Tucker Teskey’s RBI single to left ended the game early.
Verona player-manager David Lund had confidence in the team despite some adversity with the delay after about two inches of rain Saturday night.
“It was huge after sitting around all day to come out and get a couple of hits,” Lund said. “When John hit the home run, that set the tone from the start. It kind of pumped us up and deflated them a little bit.”
Kyle Nelson pitched six innings and gave up one earned run on two hits for the Cavaliers. He struck out seven and did not issue a walk. He retired the last eight batters he faced.
Nelson has had stellar command of late, walking just two in his last four starts.
Verona 1, Middleton 0
The Cavaliers (6-3) kept their Night League season alive Thursday, Aug. 8, with a road win over the 29ers.
Yapp led off the fourth inning with a walk, and Rob Capener came through with an RBI single to drive in the game’s only run.
Brad Laufenberg pitched 5 1/3 innings and struck out seven to get the win.
Verona will travel to Montello on Thursday for the Night League quarterfinals.