After a long regular season of baseball, the DeForest Deacons and Poynette Indians had their Home Talent playoff lives come down to the final game. They locked horns in a win-or-go-home game in DeForest this past Sunday.
There would be no dramatic finish, as the Deacons put together one of their best games of the season in a 16-3 victory in seven innings.
“Everybody came ready to play and that is important when you go into a do-or-die situation,” DeForest player-manager Taylor Mack said. “We started hitting right away and never looked back.”
DeForest racked up 24 hits and scored in every inning.
“Last week the bats didn’t come alive, but we know we can hit,” Deacon center fielder Julian Edwards said. “We just had to stay patient. We know we can have games like this.”
With the win, DeForest earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Section playoffs. They finished tied with Montello for third place during the regular season with a 10-6 record. Montello won the tie-breaker for the third seed.
Sun Prairie (12-4) and Monona (11-5) claimed the top two spots in the section.
Poynette missed out on the playoffs by a game after finishing 9-7.
The Deacons will face top-seeded Sun Prairie in the first round of the playoffs. The game will be played in Waterloo at 1 p.m.
“We have seen all year how all the teams in the playoffs are close,” Mack said. “It should make for great playoff games.”
Montello will play at Monona in the other semifinal game.
Sunday’s game started with Poynette scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Jalen Knuteson and Anthony Mabrey walked to open the frame. Then with two outs, a single to right field by Aaron Krigbaum scored Knuteson.
DeForest answered in a big way with four runs in the bottom of the first. Shawn Held opened the bottom of the first with a double and then Michael Johnson, Kendall Frank and Edwards had consecutive singles. Held scored on a hit by Frank.
“The guys showed up and hit in a big way,” Mack said. “We just kept hitting all game. It was a real team win.”
The Deacons grabbed the lead on a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Jack George.
Tyler Kurt provided the big hit in the bottom of the first with a two-run double.
The Indians’ Ryan Hutchinson led off the top of the second with a home run to right field.
DeForest took complete command of the game with a five-run outburst in the bottom of the second inning.
“It took a lot of pressure off to score like that,” Mack said. “Getting runs early against Poynette is big, because they are a scrappy team. If you leave the door open for them, they will go right in.”
Edwards drove in the first three runs with a towering home run to left field.
“We had batting practice this week and I tried to change some things up,” Edwards said. “I saw some good pitches and took some good swings.”
Brock Allen drove in the other two runs in the bottom of the second with a double to center field.
The lead grew to 11-2 in the bottom of the third after a two-run double by George.
Poynette closed out its scoring with a run in the top of the fourth, as Steve Leiterman came in on a ground ball by Dylan Tomlinson.
In the bottom of the fourth, DeForest got an RBI double from Johnson and run-scoring single from Frank to go up 13-3.
The Deacons pushed another run across the plate in the bottom of the fifth, as Kurt came home on a ground bally by Held.
DeForest wrapped up its big offensive day with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kurt delivered an RBI double, while Kyle Trace contributed a run-scoring single.
Kurt finished the day 5-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs to pace all batters.
Johnson, Frank, Edwards and George each had three hits for the Deacons, while Allen had two. Edwards was just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
DeForest sent 13 batters to plate in the game and 11 had at least one hit.
DeForest pitcher Garret Kertz pitched all seven innings and tossed a four-hit gem. He had six strikeouts and three walks.
“It felt really good,” Kertz said. “I had some pre-game nerves, but they had faith in me and I got the job done. It was unbelievable to get offensive help like that. The bats really came alive.”
Hutchinson led Poynette with two hits. Mabrey and Krigbaum had the only other hits.
Mabrey, Alex O’Connor and Kyle Bestul all pitched for the Indians. They combined for three strikeouts and five walks. Mabrey took the loss.