CRANDON – For the first time in three decades, the Stratford baseball team is going to state.
As has been the case all season, the Tigers were able to get solid pitching to keep the game close and found a way to win as they beat Iola-Scandinavia 3-2 in the semifinals and Neenah St. Mary Catholic 4-3 in the championship game at the WIAA Division 3 Sectional 2 baseball tournament on Tuesday at Crandon High School.
Stratford (20-2), winners of 13-straight games, will play Boyceville (19-3) in a Division 3 semifinal at the 2019 WIAA State Baseball Tournament at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, near Appleton, at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 12. Markesan (21-5) and Ozaukee (12-8) will play in the other semifinal, with the winners playing for a state title on June 13 at noon.
In the semifinal against Iola-Scandinavia (22-4), the Tigers scored twice in the bottom of the first and added another run in the third to take a quick 3-0 lead.
Stratford starting pitcher Lance Heidmann held the Thunderbirds scoreless until Alex Sharp delivered a two-run double in the top of the fourth. The two runs snapped Heidmann’s 34-inning scoreless streak on the mound, including 16 in a row in the playoffs.
Heidmann tossed two more shutout innings before giving way to Chandler Schmidt, who slammed the door with a three-up, three-down seventh to earn the save and send the Tigers into the sectional championship.
Dawson Moen went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Schmidt doubled and scored a run for the Tigers.
The championship game against Neenah St. Mary Catholic (18-3) was scoreless until the Zephyrs scored a run in the top of fourth.
Stratford responded with a run of its own, and two more in the fifth to take the lead.
After St. Mary’s tied the game at 3-3 with two runs in the sixth, Stratford plated another run to take the lead and held on from there.
Schmidt allowed all three runs, pitching into the sixth, before Moen came in an was able to limit the damage. Heidmann threw a shutout seventh inning to get the save and send the Tigers to the state tournament for the first time since 1989, the program’s only state baseball tournament appearance.
Devyn Palmer had two doubles and drove in a run, and Riley Bauman and Eli Drexler added RBIs for Stratford.
WIAA Division 3 Sectionals
June 4, at Crandon
Tigers 3, Thunderbirds 2
Iola-Scandinavia 000 200 0 – 2 4 0
Stratford 201 000 x – 3 3 1
WP: Lance Heidmann. LP: Connor Kurki. SV: Chandler Schmidt.
SO: Co. Kurki (5 inn.) 5, Carter Kurki (1 inn.) 2; Heidmann (6 inn.) 4, Schmidt (1 inn.) 018-3). BB: Co. Kurki 4, Ca. Kurki 0; Heidmann 1, Schmidt 0.
Top hitters: IS, Alex Sharp 2×3, 2B, 2 RBIs. ST, Schmidt 1×3, 2B, run; Dawson Moen 2×3, RBI, run.
Records: Iola-Scandinavia 22-4; Stratford 19-2.
Tigers 4, Zephyrs 3
Neenah St. Mary Catholic 000 102 0 – 3 6 0
Stratford 000 121 x – 4 9 5
WP: Moen. LP: T.J. Skrzypczak. SV: Heidmann.
SO: Skrzypczak (5 2/3 inn.) 3, Chris Sevaska (1/3 inn.) 1; Schmidt (5 inn.) 2, Moen (1 inn.) 1, Heidmann (1 inn.) 1. BB: Skrzypczak 1, Seveska 0; Schmidt 1, Moen 1, Heidmann 0.
Top hitters: NSMC, Skrzypczak 2×4, 2B; Holden Fischer 2×2, 2B, 2 runs, RBI. ST, Schmidt 2×3; Devyn Palmer 2×3, 2 2Bs, RBI; Eli Drexler 1×4, RBI; Riley Bauman 1×3, RBI; Mav Licciardi 1×3, run.
Records: Neenah St. Mary Catholic 18-3; Stratford 20-2.