It’s gut wrenching for a senior to know their high school sports team has been eliminated from the postseason. For some coaches, it’s also difficult to lose those players who have contributed as many as four years on varsity, attending every practice and game, giving their best effort.
The eyes of Monona Grove High School baseball coach Kevin Connor were glistening after the Silver Eagles lost their regional playoff game May 28 against visiting Mount Horeb 7-4. He will lose 11 seniors to graduation, and their departure will be difficult for him.
“To me, that’s the toughest thing in coaching, and the best is in the relationships that you build,” Connor said. “They have been great kids and the foundation of my first three years here. There are only so many teams that will come away with wins at the end of the season. You need to look more at the season than ‘we didn’t get a state championship.’ I hope the kids learned a lot and felt good about their experience in baseball. They set up a good foundation and taught the younger kids how to do things.”
While Mount Horeb scored more in the run column, the fielding of both teams was sloppy. MG was charged with six errors, and the Vikings four. Of the 11 runs scored, only three were earned.
After the Vikings scored first in the second inning, MG came back in the third as Michael Zande led off by reaching base on an error and later scored on a single by Brady Gerothanas.
Mount Horeb took a 2-1 lead in the fourth and added two in the sixth as the first two hitters were safe on infield errors, with one scoring on a sacrifice fly and the other on an error. The Vikings tallied three times in the seventh on a two-run double and sacrifice fly.
With three outs remaining in its season, MG did its best to stay alive as Graham Arndt drilled a single and Gerothanas was safe on an infield error to put runners at second and third with two out. PJ Spalding’s infield single drove home Arndt to cut the Mount Horeb lead to 7-2.
Brady Killerlain walked to load the bases for Ethan Deon, whose base hit to center field brought home Gerothanas with the bases still loaded. Graham DeWitt was hit by a pitch to force in another run as Owen Croak stepped to the plate. The right-handed hitting catcher lifted a fly ball that was caught by the center fielder for the third out.
Connor said his team simply made too many mistakes.
“We committed six errors, we were giving up extra bases, we were not backing up throws,” he said. “I think we got caught up in making the incredible play instead of just keeping it basic and hitting the cutoff man.”
Arndt led MG with three of the team’s seven hits, and his double was the team’s only extra base hit.
Gerothanas started on the mound and allowed two earned runs on six hits with six walks and three strikeouts before he was relieved by Zande with two outs in the fifth. Zande struck out the first batter he faced but yielded one earned run on three hits.
Monona Grove ended the season with a 16-8 record and a 10-4 mark in the Badger South Conference to put them in a three-way tie for the league title with Milton and Madison Edgewood.