The Home Talent League Futures game on Friday, July 26, at Stampfl Field proved to be a family affair for three Verona players.
Two 2019 Verona Area High School graduates, Connor McGowan and Tucker Teskey, played on the second-year team. Sam Pederson, a 2019 VAHS graduate, was a member of the rookie team.
The second-year HTL players beat the rookies 4-1. Teskey started in right field and went 0-for-2. McGowan started at shortstop and went 0-for-2, with a hard line out to left center in the first inning and a line out to center in the fourth.
The rookies loaded the bases loaded with one out in the second inning, but McGowan helped turn an inning-ending double play.
“I was a late add,” said McGowan, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “I was just happy to be here. I had a ton of fun, and it was a great experience to play with some different guys I wouldn’t otherwise be able to play with.”
McGowan was a two-year starter at shortstop in high school.
Both Teskey and McGowan were part of the Wildcats teams that continued a run of six straight sectional appearances.
“It’s just a hobby,” Teskey said of HTL baseball. “It’s great playing with them as much as I can. We have a brotherhood and family.”
Teskey will be a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is majoring in business finance.
Pederson pitched three innings and gave up one earned run on one hit for the rookie team. He struck out two and walked three.
Pederson will play baseball at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
“I have been just pitching a lot for the Cavs, mostly on Thursdays,” he said. “I’m going to be a pitcher in college, so I really don’t have to worry about hitting.”
Pederson also said he has been focused on improving his mechanics and location with his pitches this summer.
The Cavaliers, the defending Home Talent League champions, are 15-1 in the Sunday League, and have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Section playoffs.
“We have a lot of talent,” McGowan said. “This is a group of guys I would trust to make every play. They are some of the best baseball players I have ever played with.”
“Our biggest opponent is ourselves,” Teskey added. “If we just keep playing how we play and turn it up in the playoffs, we won’t have a problem.”
Cavs end regular season
Verona finished the regular season strong, going 3-1 in a span of five days.
The Cavaliers beat Belleville 14-4 in six innings on Tuesday, July 23, at Stampfl Field. An eight-run sixth inning for Verona ended the game early.
Rob Capener recorded two hits and three RBIs for the Cavs. McGowan also had two hits.
Tristan Largent earned the win in relief. He struck out three in three innings.
Verona then beat Cross Plains 9-3 on Thursday, July 25, at Stampfl Field.
Jason Erxleben struck out five in the complete-game victory. Derek Burgenske hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and Capener added two RBI singles. David Lund had three hits and drove in a run for the Cavs.
Verona went on the road and lost 8-7 against West Middleton on Saturday, July 27.
The Cavs scored five runs in the top of the ninth, but lost on a walk-off single. Capener had two hits and two RBIs, while Pederson and Nick Cheaney also drove in two runs. Brad Laufenberg struck out two in seven innings. Capener took the loss in relief.
Verona capped the regular season with a 15-0 home win over Belleville on Sunday, July 28. Kyle Nelson and Jacob Slonim combined to toss a five-inning no-hitter. Nelson struck out six in 4 1/3 innings. John Moynihan ripped a grand slam, part of a seven-run first inning, and drove in two more runs in a seven-run third to finish with six RBIs. Capener recorded three hits and five RBIs.
The top-seeded Cavs will host 8 seed West Middleton on Sunday, Aug. 4 in the first round of the Home Talent playoffs.