DARLINGTON - Outfielder Aric Geissbuhler smashed a grand slam home run to highlight a five-run fifth inning rally that sent the #4-seeded Darlington Redbirds flying past the #5-seeded Belleville Wildcats, 5-2, in a WIAA Division 3 regional quarterfinal game at Otto Ruf Field on Friday, May 24.
“We played hard and stuck with it. We fought the whole game. It was very intense,” said Darlington head coach Matt Austin.
The game was deadlocked at 0-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning when the Redbirds (8-9 overall) caught fire at the plate. Cade Hardyman and Jason Singer reached on back-to-back errors while Cody Hardyman and Cole McDonald followed with back-to-back singles to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Then, Geissbuhler extended the lead to 5-0 on one swing of the bat when he launched a Taylor Forman offering over the right field fence for a rousing grand slam.
“I knew our inning was coming. We struggled to hit the ball early on, but we stayed focused, put the ball in play and good things happened,” Austin added.
The Wildcats answered back with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, but Singer worked his way out of a jam in that inning and then tossed a scoreless seventh to secure the complete-game win for the Redbirds.
Singer, who also worked his way out of bases loaded jams in the first and fourth innings without yielding a run, surrendered just one earned runs over seven innings on nine hits and one walk while striking out four batters.
McDonald went 2-for-2 with a run batted in and a run scored, while Co. Hardyman finished 2-for-2 with a run for the ‘Birds.
Geissbuhler not only gave the Redbirds the lead with his fifth inning longball, but he also saved a run in the third inning when he gunned down a base runner at the plate on a throw from centerfield for the final out of the frame.
At Mineral Point, on Tuesday, May 21, the Redbirds closed the regular season with an 8-1 SWAL victory over the host Pointers.
Cole McDonald fired a complete-game gem on the mound and aided his own cause with a home run. The sophomore allowed one run on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts, and he went 2-for-3 and scored twice in the game.
The Redbirds (6-8 in SWAL) scored four times in the fourth to snap a 1-1 tie, and they added an insurance run in the fifth and two more in the seventh to put away the Pointers.
Jason Singer went 3-for-4 with two runs scored for the ‘Birds.
Darlington met top-seeded and #2-ranked Parkview in a WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal game on Tuesday afternoon. The outcome was not know at press time.
The winner advances to Wednesday’s regional final game against the winner of the Tuesday’s other semifinal game between #2-seed Cuba City and #3-seed Mineral Point at the home of the highest remaining seed.
WIAA D3 REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
Belleville.…. 000 002 0 – 2 9 4
Darlington… 000 000 0 – 5 5 2
Leading hitters: Cody Hardyman 2x2, Cole McDonald 2x2. HR- Aric Geissbuhler.
WP- Jason Singer. LP- Forman.
At Darlington, on Friday, May 24
Darlington……. 001 410 2 – 8 9 0
Mineral Point… 010 000 0 – 1 6 2
Leading hitters: Jason Singer 3x4, Cole McDonald 2x3. HR- McDonald.
WP- Cole McDonald. LP- Barrette.
At Mineral Point, on Tuesday, May 21