VERONA — Unfazed by an early deficit, the Madison Edgewood baseball team was determined to be patient at the plate and put together productive at-bats in the middle innings Wednesday night.
The Crusaders did that, scoring three runs in the third inning, two in the fourth and five in the fifth.
Host and top-seeded Edgewood, trailing by two runs in the second, rallied for a 12-9 victory over third-seeded Mount Horeb in a WIAA Division 2 regional final at Stampl Field in Verona.
“We’ve been behind in situations like that before,” senior right fielder Mitchell Wendler said. “We had experience. We knew what we had to do. The coaches were giving us some pretty good advice. They told us to go out there, be calm, take some deep breaths, wait for your pitch.
“We wanted to make the pitchers work up their pitch count, get them tired. And once they were tired, drive their strikes when they threw them.”
Said Edgewood coach Rich Newton: “That’s been our philosophy all year. We dictate off what the pitchers are doing and what the umpire is calling. It was a tighter zone. … I said, `Hey, let’s be patient up there and wait for our pitches.’ ’’
Wendler reached base each time in four at-bats, including delivering a triple and walking three times. He drove in three runs and scored three times. Leadoff hitter and senior center fielder Jack Hastreiter was on base five times. He had three hits, walked twice, scored once and knocked in three runs for Edgewood (18-5).
Edgewood advanced to a sectional semifinal and will meet Wisconsin Dells at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Baraboo. Mount Horeb finished 13-10.
“Our kids have great character,” Mount Horeb coach Ryan Finley said. “I knew they’d keep fighting. Edgewood is a really good team. They had a great season. … They deserved it.”
The Vikings loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second on a single by freshman shortstop Kolton Schaller and walks to senior first baseman Billy Meckley and sophomore second baseman Jonas Kittoe.
Senior designated hitter Jordan Schaefer pounded the ball into the ground in front of the plate. Edgewood starting pitcher Andrew Newton, a senior right-hander, charged off the mound but his toss home was too late to get a sliding Schaller, who scored the game’s first run.
Sophomore third baseman Finn Polman then pushed a bunt toward first base, the second out bringing in the Vikings’ second run.
The Crusaders answered with three runs in the third.
Edgewood opened the third by loading the bases on a walk, hit batter and walk. In all, the game featured 21 walks.
Junior catcher Jonathan Hebl delivered a sacrifice fly to left, knocking in the Crusaders’ first run.
With two out, Newton blooped a single to left, driving in the tying run. Senior designated hitter Alex Esch then drove in the go-ahead run with a single to right — ending Mount Horeb starter Mitchell Hellenbrand’s outing.
Newton worked out of a fourth-inning jam after the Vikings put two runners on board. He snared Schaefer’s liner just above his shoe tops and fired to second for a double play, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the left-handed swinging Wendler ripped a triple into the right-center field gap, knocking in senior left fielder Nick Bergmann.
Sophomore second baseman Benjamin Newton pushed a bunt toward first for the first out, which brought home Wendler and gave the Crusaders a 5-2 lead.
Newton loaded the bases on walks in the top of the fifth. Schaller came through with a two-out, two-run single to center, rallying the Vikings within 5-4.
The Crusaders — who shared the Badger South Conference crown with Monona Grove and Milton — broke open the game with five runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Wendler drew a one-out walk with the bases loaded, increasing the lead to 6-4. Benjamin Newton’s run-scoring bunt single made it 7-4 and Hastreiter followed with a two-run hit to right center, building the lead to 9-4. Hebl then delivered his second sacrifice fly of the game.
Senior right fielder Tyler Denu, an Evansville commit, drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the sixth, pulling the Vikings within 10-5. Two more runs scored on an Edgewood error on senior catcher Chase Markin’s grounder to short, making it 10-7.
After taking a 12-7 lead, Edgewood hung on after Mount Horeb scored twice in the top of the seventh.
Senior Jackson Wendler scored twice and had two hits for Edgewood.
Edgewood defeated Mount Horeb for the second time in three meetings this season, all high scoring affairs.
Mount Horeb 020 023 2 — 9 5 0
Madison Edgewood 003 252 0 — 12 9 3
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — MH: Meckley (0.2-2-2-1-0), Hellenbrand (L; 2.2-3-3-2-2), Polman (1-0-0-1-0), Klais (1.2-4-7-7-1), ME: Newton (W; 4.2-4-4-5-0), Esch (1.1-1-1-2-2), Trudgeon (1-0-0-3-1).
Leading hitters — MH: Schaller (2x4). ME: Hastreiter (3x3), J. Wendler (2x4). 3B — M. Wendler.