Waupaca Takes D2 Crown From Milwaukee Lutheran

By Spencer Flaten

GRAND CHUTE, Wis.—The Waupaca Comets won their first ever baseball state championship with a 2-0 victory over defending champion Milwaukee Lutheran in the Division 2 final.

Runs were at a premium, and Waupaca made sure they took advantage of their opportunities to bring home the gold.

Both Waupaca’s Walker Smith and Milwaukee Lutheran’s James Wright were tough to hit in the game, and in the end the Comets did just enough to get to Wright.

The Red Knights thought they took the lead in the top of the third when TD Walker hit a single with a man on second, who came around to score. However, the Comets tossed the ball to third base after the play was over and the runner was called out for missing the base, much to the chagrin of Milwaukee Lutheran fans.

The play perhaps ignited Waupaca, who scored both of their runs in the bottom half of the third. Smith led off the inning with a single and was bunted over to second. Jason Ellie then drilled a single to center field to bring Smith in to score. In the ensuing at-bat, Hayden Neidert put a double into the gap in right center and increased the lead to 2-0.

The Red Knights had their chances to score. In the sixth, Christian Gerner singled to bring hot-hitting Nick Winter up to the plate. Gerner advanced to second on a wild pitch and Winter grounded out to move him over to third. However, Walker hit a shallow fly ball in the next at-bat that wasn’t deep enough for a sacrifice fly, and Ryan Selner lined out to end the inning.

Milwaukee Lutheran also got two runners on base in the seventh, which brought the go-ahead run to the plate. A comeback wasn’t meant to be, though, as the final two batters lined out and flew out to end the game.

Smith finished the game with a complete game shutout in which he scattered five hits and walked four. He struck out two. Wright went six innings for the Red Knights and allowed two earned runs on four hits and four strikeouts.

Smith was also the Comets’ top hitter. He was the only player for either team to have two hits in the game.

The win gave Waupaca head coach John Koronkiewicz his first state baseball title in the final year of his 24 year career with the Comets.