ROB HAMILTON

Sun Prairie head coach Rob Hamilton is presented the runner-up trophy after the Cardinals fell 5-4 to Eau Claire North in the WIAA Division 1 state baseball championship game Thursday at Fox Cities Stadium. Sun Prairie finished 24-8.

GRAND CHUTE — All the Sun Prairie baseball team could do is watch as Sam Stange’s three-run home run sailed over the wall, giving Eau Claire North a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning and eventual victory in Thursday's WIAA Division 1 state championship game.

Stange, named the state Player of the Year by the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association earlier in the day, got all of Logan Lange’s 1-1 offering, hitting it onto a chalet beyond the right field wall.

“We could’ve put him on but the tying run on second was our worry,” said Sun Prairie head coach Rob Hamilton, who in his previous at bat did intentionally walked Stange. “Obviously, I wish we would have.”

Sun Prairie (24-8) had trailed the whole game until a three-run sixth gave them a 4-2 advantage. After tying the game on an error, sophomore Carson Shepard’s double to left scored Alec Schmitz and Jacob Powley.

Lange then retired the first two Huskies, but gave up a single to lead-off batter Gabe O’Brien and walked Carter Hesselman, bringing Stange to the plate.

The senior, batting .522 coming into the WIAA tournament, barreled-up on Lange’s pitch hitting it high into the twilight sky and well over the Fox Cities Stadium fence.

“We didn’t put enough pressure on them offensively; close games that go down to the wire like this is what the result was,” he added.

Sun Prairie tied the game at 2-2 when pinch-hitter Alec Schmitz reached on an error. After fouling off a 1-2 Goetsch offering, Schmitz hit a hard smash to short that North’s Carter Hesselman fielded but threw into the dirt allowing pinch-runner Brady Stevens to score the tying run.

The very next batter, Powley, grounded to third and he too reached on an error on Gabe Richardson, setting the table for Shepard. The sophomore finished as Sun Prairie’s leading hitter in the tourney batting .500 (5x10).

“I knew I was going to get something to hit,” said Shepard. “I got enough of it to get over his head.”

The state championship appearance was Sun Prairie’s 10th. The Cardinals are 8-2 in those title games.

The title was the second in school history for Eau Claire North (25-4).

EAU CLAIRE NORTH 5, SUN PRAIRIE 4

Sun Prairie 001 003 0 — 4 4 2

Eau Claire North 020 003 x — 5 8 4

Sun Prairie (ab-r-h-rbi) — Shepard 3-1-2-2, Moreno 3-0-0-0, Bartel 4-0-1-1, Caron 4-0-0-0, DePrey 3-0-1-0, Radlund 0-0-0-0, Stevens 0-1-0-0, Knorr 2-0-0-0, Halbleib 3-0-0-0, Ostrenga 0-0-0-0, Wendler 2-0-0-0, Schmitz 1-1-0-1, Powley 3-1-0-0, Urban 0-0-0-0, Lange 0-0-0-0. Totals — 28-4-4-4.

Eau Claire North(ab-r-h-rbi) — O’Brien 4-1-2-0, Hesselman 2-0-1-0, Johnson 0-1-0-0, Stange 3-1-1-3, Pogodzinski 4-0-0-0, Fadness 3-0-1-0, Zachow 2-1-0-0, Feck 3-0-1-2, Vance 0-0-0-0, Dehnke 3-0-2-0, Goetsch 0-0-0-0, Kulig 0-0-0-0. Totals — 26-5-8-5.

2B — Shepard; Feck, Dehnke. HR — Stange.

Pitching HO — Wendler 4 in 1 ⅓, Lange 4 in 4 ⅔; Goetsch 3 in 5 ⅔, Zachow 1 in 1 1/3. ER — Wendler 2, Lange 3; Goetsch 1, Zachow 0. SO — Wendler 0, Lange 6; Goetsch 3, Zachow 1. BB — Wendler 1, Lange 4; Goetsch 2, Zachow 0.

W — Zachow (2-0). L — Lange (4-2).

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