MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (May 16–23)
SWAL BASEBALL: Fennimore 11, Cuba City 7 (9 inn.)
By Jason Nihles, The Platteville Journal / Fennimore Times / Boscobel Dial
Eagles beat Cubans in nine to win a share of 2023 SWAL title
CUBA CITY — It certainly wasn’t easy, but the difficult journey made it that much sweeter.
Fennimore rallied from a 6–2 deficit through five innings to beat first-place Cuba City 11–7 in nine innings last Friday afternoon to earn a share of this year’s SWAL title.
Coach Brent Sheckler’s Golden Eagles (20–4, 12–2 SWAL) were chasing the Cubans all season after back-to-back league losses to Riverdale, 17–7 April 14, and the Cubans, 6–5 on May 25.
“It was our first goal to win conference, which we knew was an achievable task this year,” said Sheckler. “When we lost that Riverdale game it was a wake up call, but also put some pressure on us. Then, when we lost to Cuba City a week later, we knew we had to win out and hope Cuba City would lose a game or two. We thought Cuba might lose two or three the rest of the way but they never stopped winning.”
After early league losses, both teams ran the table on the conference schedule in May until Fennimore’s win last Friday forced a split of this year’s title. It was the fifth conference title in FHS history. Coach Sheckler was a senior on the school’s first SWAL baseball title in 2000 and was the head coach in 2011, 2012, 2018 and 2023.
The Cubans (16–5, 12–2) only other SWAL loss this year was a 6–4 loss at Iowa–Grant April 11.
“Most of these players have never been part of a conference championships, so it was very special to us,” added Sheckler. “To come back after that bad inning and to win down at Cuba City, where we have been haunted recently including last year’s regional game, was really fun.”
Fennimore scored four runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 6–6.
Sophomore Ethan Sheckler blasted a bases clearing double off the fence to make it 6–5, and senior Carter Washburn single down the left field line to tie the game 6–6.
Fennimore loaded the bases with one out after a Tyson Starkey single and a Macoy Miles walk, but Tyson Richard struck out both Max Miles and Lucas Lendosky to end the threat.
“Honestly, I thought that might be it, because they have been our best hitters all year and we haven’t really had to battle from behind much this year. But after that inning, even with the wind out of our sails we kept battling.”
After Cuba’s big inning, Dawson Cole (4–1) came on and pitched a gem from the fifth inning on, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walked in 4 1/3 innings to earn the win.
Macoy Miles singled to lead off the ninth and Max Miles reached on a bunt.
Gehrke gave the Eagles the lead with a two-run single, then after a walk Ethan Sheckler ripped a two-run single to make it 10–6. Starkey added a two-out RBI single for a fifth run.
Cuba scored a run in the bottom of the ninth, but Cole got Will Busch to fly out to left field to end the game.
Fennimore closed the regular season Monday with a 18–5 non-conference win over Six Rivers West champion Potosi/Cassville (15–8).
Senior Dawson Cole slugged a pair of grand slams in the inning — the first after an intentional walk to Lendosky, the second to end the game via the mercy rule — and finished the game 3-for-5 with nine RBI.
Fennimore earned the No. 4 seed in its 14-team WIAA D3 half-sectional and will open the playoffs today at home against No. 13 Belleville. The winner will advance to face either No. 5 Mineral Point or No. 12 Wisconsin Heights in a regional semifinal Tuesday. The regional finals are scheduled for Wednesday.
Fennimore 11, Cuba City 7
(from Friday, May 19 @ Cuba City)
Fennimore...100 014 005 — 11 14 2
Cuba City......100 050 001 — 7 7 3
Leading hitters — F: Macoy Miles 2x4 (2R), Tyson Gehrke 2x5 (2RBI, R), Ethan Sheckler 3x5 (5RBI, R), Carter Washburn 2x4 (2RBI), Tyson Starkey 2x4 (RBI); CC: Reese Rosenkrantz 2x3 (R), Johll 1x2 (2RBI), Van Natta 1x4 (3RBI). 2B — F: Sheckler; CC: Johll, Rosenkrantz.
W — Dawson Cole (4–1, 4.1IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 4K, 1BB). L — Tyson Richard (3.2IP, 4H, 5R, 0ER, 3K, 2BB).