Although they didn’t know it at the time, the Platteville Merchants capped their summer season with a walkoff win last Wednesday night at Hill Field.
Riley Miller tripled to lead off the bottom of the seventh and scored the game-winning run when Cam Brant drew a bases loaded walk to plate the winning run in an 8–7 victory over visiting Barneveld.
As it turned out that would be Platteville’s final game of the season. A day later Potosi was forced to cancel a doubleheader because they didn’t have nine players and Friday the season came to an end when Lancaster had to cancel the season finale, also due to a lack of players.
Platteville finished 9–1 this season and head coach Brian Reuter was happy with the progress his young players made during the six-week summer season.
“The tough part was we lost five games due to things out of our control and not because of Mother Nature,” said Reuter.
Fennimore and Shullsburg/Benton also had to back out of scheduled games with Platteville earlier in the season, due to lack of players. “But our pitching was real good this summer and a number of guys gained some valuable experience on the mound. We played hard and won some games and hopefully that will bode well for the future. We have a good core of players coming back next spring and we are real excited,” said Reuter.
Barneveld, the only team to beat Platteville this summer, jumped out a 5–0 lead on Platteville ace Ben Pluemer, but the Merchants hung in there.
Blake Noel’s RBI single in the bottom of the third drove in Zach Dean and put Platteville on the board, 5–1. Pluemer pitched a 1–2–3 fourth and then helped his own cause with a two-run single in the bottom half of the inning to trim the deficit to 5–3.
Barneveld tacked on an insurance run in the fifth, but Platteville rallied with three runs, all with two outs, to tie the game at 6–6 in the sixth.
Brant drew a two-out walk and stole second to put runners on second and third. Logan Ludlum followed with a two-run single to left to make it 6–5. After Nate Reuter walked, Jeff Okey hit a bloop single to right field to tie the game. Jake Niehaus followed with a sharp single to left to give Platteville’s its first lead of the game at 7–6.
Ludlum, who relieved Pluemer to begin the sixth, got two quick outs, but a single by Mathew Myers, and walk and an RBI single by Trey Laube tied the game.
Miller tripled to deep left field, then Pluemer walked after fouling off two straight two-strike pitches, and Noel walked on four straight balls to load the bases for Brant.
Brant took three balls and a strike looking before fouling off a 3–1 pitch. He took ball four on a full count to drive in the game-winner.
“The experience the kids gained this summer is obvious, but just gaining confidence and finding ways to get over the hump and win close games was the biggest thing we took from the season. The guys are starting to understand the never give up attitude and we had a couple of nice comebacks this summer against Potosi, Darlington two weeks ago and Barneveld last week to end the season.”
Noel leads Merchants with .533 batting average
Noel finished the summer leading the Merchants with a .533 batting average, 16 hits, four doubles, 11 RBIs, seven walks and a .667 slugging percentage in 10 games. He also went 2–1 with one save, a 1.75 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched.
Brant finished second on the team batting .464 with 13 hits, nine RBIs, eight runs and a team-high five stolen bases in 10 games. He also went 1–0 with an 0.78 ERA and 14 strikeouts in nine innings pitched.
Niehaus batted .571 with eight hits in 14 at-bats and four RBIs in four games this summer. Okey batted .455 with five hits in 11 at-bats in five games.
Pluemer hit .364 (8-for-22) with six RBIs and five runs. He also went a team-best 3–0 with a 1.52 ERA and a team-best 27 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched.
Coleman Brecke batted .346 (9-for-26) with three doubles, seven RBIs and a team-high 14 runs scored.
Platteville 8, Barneveld 7
(from Wednesday, July 13 @ Platteville)
Barneveld 122 010 1 — 7 7 2
Platteville 001 204 1 — 8 11 1
Leading hitters — P: Trey Laube 2x3, Sam Schetrowka 2x4; P: Ben Pluemer 3x4, Blake Noel 2x3, Jeff Okey 2x2. 2B — B: Matt Hugill; P: Riley Miller
W — Logan Ludlum (1–0, 2IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 1BB). L — Caleb Behnke (3IP, 7H, 7R, 5ER, 3K, 9BB).