The Deerfield Demons battled, they were close, but they were in unfamiliar territory.
“I think nerves had a little bit to do with that game,” Deerfield coach Scott Gloede said. “It’s not an excuse, we just haven’t been in that spot since 2013. I can’t explain it really with anything else.”
The Demons struck out 13 times and were defeated, 6-1, in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal against Mineral Point on Thursday at Firemen’s Park in Johnson Creek.
“Barneveld guy that we played before (in the regional semifinal),” Gloede said. “I had some alumni come in and throw to the kids and they threw just as hard as the Cox kid. For whatever reason, they continued to struggle. They weren’t going down looking, so they were up there swinging the bat. I told them to get up there and swing the bat — that’s what they did and that made me a little bit happy.”
But the result was short of what Deerfield felt it was capable of. Seven of the nine Demons to go to the plate struck out at least once as they only managed four hits in the game against starter Curtis Cox, who handed the ball off to reliever Justin Baehler for the final two innings.
Senior captain Carson Knapp, who will play in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Classic, said the Demons matched up well against Mineral Point; but it just wasn’t their day.
“Obviously it’s tough in those situations, but you have to forget about it and move on,” Knapp said. “They didn’t even pitch their ace against us. He was still a stud, but they had the scouting report on us. We had people on base, but we couldn’t score. That comes from playing in more games that have that type of atmosphere.”
Simon Fuerstenberg started on the mound for the Demons. He struck out one batter in six innings. Four of the six runs given up by Fuerstenberg were earned.
Mineral Point scored three runs in the third inning, which wiped out the 1-0 lead Deerfield had taken in the top of the inning when Carson Galla scored on a Clayton Mathwig double.
Mineral Point No. 7 hitter Dominik McVay singled to lead off the third inning. McVay stole second base, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out to Knapp at shortstop.
“It was a tough play, I didn’t know if I could get him at the plate, but my instinct was to try to make a throw to the plate,” Knapp said. “I threw it a little bit high, but I went with my gut so I think that was the right play. ...
“It’s a game of inches and so many little things make up a whole game. If we get him there, it’s a different game.”
Mineral Point scored two more runs in the inning and seemed to have the breathing room it needed to dispose of the Demons.
Deerfield concluded the season with a 20-5 record overall and a 6-2 record in the Trailways South. The Demons finished in second place behind Johnson Creek (20-6, 7-1). Deerfield defeated Johnson Creek in the regional final to get to sectionals.