Hawley Post 311 held a 3-0 lead heading into the sixth inning of Game Three in the District 15 championship series. Alas for local fans, the Toros surrendered three runs in that frame, then eventually lost to Milford in a 9-inning epic.
An American Legion Baseball season that began with such promise ended in heartbreak this past week for Hawley.
Post 311 rolled to the 2012 regular season title with a dazzling 13-2 record, then swept Hamlin in the semifinals to punch its ticket to the championship series.
The Toros dropped Game One to Milford, but then bounced back to win Game Two. This set the stage for an epic “grand finale” that local hardball fans will remember for a long time.
On Thursday night on the shores of The Big Lake, Hawley and Milford battled to a 3-3 stalemate through seven innings.
Sadly for local fans, the visitors pushed across three runs in the top of the 9th, one last rally that the Toros simply couldn’t counter. As the sun set and Post 311 players slumped sadly in their dugout, Milford celebrated a 6-3 win and a 2-1 series victory.
“It’s a tough way for the season to end,”?an emotionally exhausted Coach Chad Goetz told The News Eagle afterward. “The kids are pretty upset and so are the coaches. We did a bunch of good things and played well overall. But, we just made too many mistakes in the field and on the bases. That was the big difference...”
Despite the disappointing loss, Post 311 closes out its summer season with a sparkling 16-4 record.
“We definitely took some strides forward,” said Coach Goetz. “We’re learning how to be competitive and how to play with the big boys. I’m sorry to see it end.”
Hawley’s James Goetz and David Krause of Milford put on an absolute pitching clinic in this one.
Goetz, who had just gone two innings in relief the day before, was back on the hill as Post 311’s starter.
James once again baffled enemy batters, working five scoreless frames before finally tiring and yielding to the Toros’ pen. He fanned four and issued just one free pass over the course of 66 total pitches.
Krause was even better.
Milford’s tall, lanky right hander would put together a brilliant performance on this day. Krause pitched all nine innings, throwing an eye-popping 142 pitches en route to the complete game decision.
He scattered eight hits, struck out eight and walked three batters.
Despite David’s brilliance, Hawley did scratch out single runs in the first, third and fifth. The Toros were two innings away from regionals, but simply couldn’t get those all-important final six outs.
Brandon Newsome and Danny Skibber came on in relief, but Milford victimized them for six total runs in the final frames.
Newsome lasted less than an inning and Skibber went the rest of the way, eventually absorbing the loss.
Chris Duff and Cameron Wolfson paced the Post 311 offensive assault with two hits each. Duff also swiped a pair of sacks and tallied two runs.
Erik Pulkkinen, Kenny Ciszak and Goetz contributed a key hit apiece and drove in a run.
Mike Henry and Sammy Vargas also chipped in with a base knock each.
David Ortiz delivered the defensive Play of the Day in extra innings. A versatile player who saw time on the mound, at third base and in the outfield, Ortiz prolonged this game with a spectacular diving catch along the foul line in left.
“We’re getting closer,”?said Coach Goetz. “We’re learning how to win.”
Score by Innings...
MIL 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 3 - 6
HAW 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 3