GRAND CHUTE — It was business as usual for the Janesville Craig baseball team.
The last time the Cougars took the field at Fox Cities Stadium, they were knocked out in the state quarterfinals in 2016. The Craig players made sure that didn’t happen this time around.
The Cougars scattered runs throughout five innings and had two pitchers combine for a three-hitter as Craig downed Milwaukee King 8-0 in a WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal on Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t want to say you grind it out, but I think everybody in our lineup got a hit,” said Janesville Craig coach Victor Herbst, whose team was scheduled to play second-ranked Hartland Arrowhead in a semifinal later Tuesday. “But we put guys on base up and down the lineup, we scored multiple innings in a row. That gets very difficult on defenses when there’s always guys on.”
The fifth-ranked Cougars could have easily overlooked King, which was just 11-9 entering the postseason. But Craig never wavered.
“For us, it was a good Game 1 because you never know when you come here what you get in Game 1,” Herbst said. “Some guys, they’re overwhelmed and stuff. I thought we performed really well in Game 1 to get acclimated to the setting.”
It helped that Craig got its bats going early en route to 13 hits. The Cougars put 16 runners on base and delivered at the plate.
“Scoring runs pretty much in every inning, it’s really nice,” said Craig third baseman Dan Blomgren, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. “It’s nice leverage and it felt really good. Hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Craig, which finished third in the Big Eight Conference, got a great pitching performance from starter Micah Overley. He threw six innings, allowing just two hits while striking out five. Jacob Faust threw the final inning and gave up one hit.
“Just to get ahead and get runs and once that happened I just settled in,” Overley said. “Once I got settled in it was easy, smooth sailing.”
In an otherwise uneventful game, Blomgren added some excitement. With Craig up 5-0, Blomgren led off the fifth with a line drive that the right fielder took a bad angle on. The ball trickled to the warning track and a bad relay throw to the infield allowed Blomgren to finish off an inside-the-park home run.
Blomgren, a Michigan commit, saw the ball initially get past the outfielder and he was thinking he could get a triple.
“I was running to third and he’s sending me home and I’m like, ‘What? What? He’s sending me home? I scored,” Blomgren said. “The fences are 405 (feet) to right-center, so it just kept going.”
Craig (23-5) started the second inning with a leadoff double by Noah Berghammer. After a JJ Brennan single, Berghammer scored on a Clark Schmaling sacrifice fly. Brennan came around to score on a Jacob Hesseling single to make it 2-0.
The Cougars tacked on a pair of runs in the third. Luke Malmanger drove in Blomgren and Tressin Kussmaul singled in Malmanger.
After Craig scored a fourth-inning run to up the lead to 5-0, King (14-10) got its first hit of the game off Overley.
Schmaling and Blomgren each had RBI hits in the sixth to bump the advantage to 8-0.
Janesville Craig 022 112 0 — 8 13 3
Milwaukee King 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
JANESVILLE CRAIG (ab-r-h-rbi) — Blomgren 3b 4-2-3-2; Campbell c 4-0-1-0; Malmanger 1b 3-1-1-1; Berghammer ss 4-1-2-0; Kussmaul rf 4-0-1-1; Brennan cf 3-2-2-0; Schmaling dh 2-2-1-2; Hesseling 2b 3-0-1-1; March lf 3-0-1-1; Overly p 0-0-0-0; Faust p 0-0-0-0. Totals 30-8-13-8.
MILWAUKEE KING — N. Pinet ss 2-0-0-0; Jackson 2b 2-0-0-0; Paea ph 1-0-0-0; LeFlore cf 3-0-0-0; T. Pinet c/p 3-0-2-0; Nelson rf 2-0-0-0; Boettcher ph 1-0-0-0; Akpan 1b/c 3-0-0-0; Myer p/1b 3-0-0-0; Sullivan 3b 2-0-0-0; Winegarden lf 1-0-1-0. Totals 23-0-3-0.
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — JC: Overly (W; 6-2-0-2-5); Faust (1-1-0-0-2). MK: Myer (L; 5-11-7-2-2); T. Pinet (2-2-0-1-4). 2B — Berghammer 2, Schmaling, T. Pinet. HR — Blomgren. SAC — Schmaling. SB — Blomgren 2, Malmanger 2, Hesseling. E — Campbell, Myer. DP — MK 1. LOB — JC 5; MK 4. WP — T. Pinet 1.