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MCDONALD'S CO-GAME OF THE WEEK (HTL Baseball): Shullsburg/Benton 5, Hollandale 4
Fever walks off with a thrilling win over Rockies
Fever celebrate
The Shullsburg/Benton Fever scored a 5–4 walk-off over Hollandale in the second round of the playoffs to advance to the HTL Divisional championship round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. - photo by photo by Tom Gunnell

HOME TALENT LEAGUE BASEBALL: Shullsburg/Benton 5, Hollandale 4

By Tom Gunnell, The Republican Journal

SHULLSBURG — The Fever heated up at just the right time on Sunday afternoon.

After giving up three runs in the top of the ninth inning to fall behind 4-2, #5-seeded Shullsburg/Benton struck for three runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk away with a thrilling 5-4 victory over #6-seeded Hollandale in a Home Talent League Western Section Sunday League semifinal playoff contest held at a sun-soaked Badger Park on Sunday, Aug. 15.

Shullsburg/Benton (12-6 overall, 7-4 Sunday League) advances to the Western Section Championship Game for the first time in program history. The Fever will face top-seeded Belleville (10-1) at Belleville High School on Sunday, Aug. 22, at 1 p.m.

Sunday’s winner moves on to represent the Western Section in the 2021 HTL Final Four tournament, which begins on Sunday, Aug. 29. 

The Fever grabbed an early lead on Jim Pavlik’s two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning and held onto the advantage until the top of the ninth inning when the Rockies (6-5) exploded for three runs to pull in front by a score of 4-2.

Griffin Rear’s two-out, RBI-single brought in the tying run; and then, following a walk by Alex Schauff, Rear scored on a base hit by Jared Rear to put the Rockies ahead for the first time in the game. Kyle Thompson capped the two-out rally with a RBI-single that drove in Schauff to put the Rockies ahead by two.

With two runners still on base, Nathan Hendrickson got Trey Gordon to fly out to left field for the final out in the top of the ninth.

The Fever started off the home half of the ninth with Pavlik reaching on an error, Justin Crotty earning a full-count walk and Hendrickson reaching on a well-placed bunt single to put the go-ahead runner on the basepaths.

A sacrifice fly by Nathan Mowry plated Pavlik for the Fever’s first run of the ninth, then HTL veteran Jayson Haldiman drove a RBI-single to right to drive in pinch runner Austin Redfearn for the tying run and put runners on the corners.

After Haldiman stole second, Brooks Tiedeman was intentionally walked to load the bases with one down. With the Rockies infield drawn in to cut down the winning run at the plate, Fever lead-off hitter Mitch Mclaughlin snuck a hard grounder under the glove of the Rockies shortstop to drive in pinch runner Nolan Strang for the game-winning run.

Pavlik finished 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs driven in and two runs scored for the Fever.

The Rockies put runners on base in seven of the game’s nine innings but scored in just two of those stanzas while stranding 11 runners on the sacks.

After stranding the bases loaded in the top of the third inning, the Rockies filled the bases again with no outs in the top of the fourth, but the Fever got out of the jam allowing just one run thanks to a very unconventional triple play.

A Myles Rolli grounder to J. Crotty at shortstop started things off. J. Crotty tossed the ball to Jacob Berendes for a force out at second base while Luke Kelly sprinted home for the Rockies first run. 

After securing the out at second, Berendes whirled and threw to first to try and turn a double play. The Fever didn’t get the out at first, but they caught both Rolli and Mike Schlimgen in rundowns to get out of the inning with the lead intact.

The Rockies stranded two runners on in the fifth, one in the seventh and two more in the ninth to miss out on other scoring opportunities.    

Hendrickson picked up the victory in relief of starter Zach Lieb, who allowed one run on three hits over the first four innings with seven strikeouts and eight walks. Hendrickson worked the final five frames, yielding three runs on five hits with one walk and one K.

Tanner Ames, who struck out 11 batters in 8 1/3 innings, took the loss for the Rockies.


Shullsburg/Benton 5, Hollandale 4
(from Sunday, Aug. 16, at Shullsburg)
Hollandale...000 100 003 – 4 8 2
Shulls-Ben...200 000 003 – 5 7 0
Leading Hitters: H– Thompson 2x3. S/B– Jim Pavlik 2x4. HR– Pavlik. 2B- Pavlik.
RBIH (3)– G. Rear, J. Rear, Thompson. S/B (5)– Mitch Mclaughlin, Pavlik (2), C. Crotty, Nathan Mowry, Jayson Haldiman. RunsH (4)– G. Rear, Schauff, L. Kelly, #24. S/B (5)– Pavlik (2), Austin Redfearn, Nolan Strang,Jacob Berendes.
WP- Nathan Hendrickson (4 In, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K).
LP- Ames (8.33 In, 5 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 11 K).