ARENA — The Platteville Merchants Senior Babe Ruth baseball team closed out the July summer season with an 8–11 record after a 7–6 nine-inning loss to host Wisconsin Heights Friday night.
The game was originally scheduled to be a nine-inning contest, instead of the two five-inning games Platteville has played most of the summer season.
The Merchants led 3–1 through five innings of play and never actually until the final play of the game.
The Vanguards scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to make it a one-run game 6–5.
Heights then tied the game and loaded the bases aggaint Platteville reliever Dylan Prestegard in the bottom of the ninth.
Aiden Sparkman came on in relief of Prestegard with one out and the bags full.
He induced a slow rolling ground ball to Prestegard, who moved to third after the pitching change, but the Heights base runner beat the throw to the plate to end the game.
“This was not the way we wanted to end the season,” said Platteville coach Randy Knight. “The boys fought hard the entire game. I think playing nine innings got to them toward the end. Heights has played most of their games this summer as nine innings.”
Platteville scored one in the top of the second on an RBI double by Prestegard and two in the top of the third. Josh Banfield reached on a dropped third strike, stole second and third and came in to score on a passed ball. Noah Felder reached on a walk and was driven in by a two-out single by Sparkman.
The Vanguards scored their only run in the first five innings in the bottom of the fourth against Platteville senior Garrett Baxter, who dominated through five innings of play.
Baxter allowed two more runs in the sixth and finished the night with three runs allowed, two earned, on four hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out four and left with a 4–3 lead.
Junior John Drefcinski singled, stole second, then stole third and scored on an overthrow of third base by the Heights’ catcher.
“Garrett again did his job on the mound in his last appearance,” said Knight. “He really threw the ball well this year for not seeing any innings on the mound his junior year.”
Platteville added a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to increase the lead to 6–3, before Heights scored a pair in the bottom of the inning to set up the Vanguards’ game-winning rally an inning later.
Baxter doubled to lead off the eighth and later scored on a passed ball. Drefcinski walked, stole second and came in on Yeffrin Salgado’s fielder’s choice ground out to make it 6–3.
“We hit the ball well Friday night. And our defense was looking really good Knight. ‘It was a tough lost being it was the last one for Nick and Garrett. I am glad we were able to get a season in for the two seniors.”
Last Wednesday’s Babe Ruth league doubleheader with Cross Plains was cancelled due to the visitors not having enough available players for the five-inning doubleheader.
With WIAA football and boys soccer pushed back until at least Sept. 7, the Merchants will continue the summer season into August with a revamped roster.
Friday night’s game at Wisconsin Heights was the end of careers for Baxter and fellow senior Nick Cullen, while senior-to-be Adam Bird, and incoming freshmen Riley Donahoe, Dayvn Edge, Garrison Tashner, Nathan Roden, Cam Key, Carter Spensley and Zach McClain will join the Platteville Babe Ruth team for the remainder of the summer, as coach Knight will use the month of August to prepare for the 2021 spring season.
Platteville will host Madison Edgewood Thursday with a varsity/JV doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m. The Merchants will then welcome Riverdale to town Friday at 6 p.m.
Platteville will host Viroqua in a doubleheader Thursday, Aug. 13 and Belleville on Friday, Aug. 14. Both of those doubleheaders begin at 5:30 p.m.
Wisconsin Heights 7, Platteville 6
(from Wednesday, July 30 @ Arena)
Platteville..........010 021 020 — 6 7 5
Wisc. Heights...000 102 022 — 7 9 1
Platteville Leading hitters — P: Nick Cullen 2x4, Brendyn Edge 1x3, John Drefcinski 1x3 (RBI). 2B — P: Dylan Prestegard, Garrett Baxter, Edge.
W — Will (2IP, 2H, 2ER, 2K, 3BB). L — Dylan Presteagard (0–4, 2.1IP, 4H, 4ER, 2K, 3BB).