Wednesday, May 9th, 2007
Wildcats complete a perfect league season
By Robb Hemmelgarn
NEW BREMEN - Following three decades, the wait for Minster baseball followers is finally over.
Tuesday in New Bremen, the Wildcats came from behind to knock off their neighbors to the north, 6-5 - a victory which put an exclamation point on a perfect season in the MAC, something Minster fans had waited for since the league's inception in 1973.
The Wildcats shared the title with St. Henry and Coldwater in 1975, but now the only hands on the trophy are their own.
"It's always a goal to win the MAC title, but until it happens, it's just not something you can expect year in and year out," said Minster head coach Mike Wiss. "This is something that our kids really need to cherish because you just don't know when it will happen again, and it definitely isn't something that you get a lot of chances at."
The visitors began their assault in the first inning when Dan Mueller and Aaron Heitbrink each scored. The home team evened things up in their half of the second inning when Brad Wendel picked up his team's first hit off Minster starter Alyx Brandewie. Derrick Bruggeman reached base on an error a few moments later, and both scored to knot the game at two runs apiece.
New Bremen added to its total in the next at-bat when Adam Meyer knocked in Matt McCollum and Brad Wendel, who reached base on a walk and a base hit, respectively.
Trailing 4-2, the Wildcats shrugged it off in the fourth frame - an inning which proved to be detrimental to the Cardinals. Minster put its first three batters on base with a pair of walks and a base hit. Jimmy Stechschulte, Dan Mueller, and Zac Boeke each scored thanks to a sacrifice fly by Aaron Heitbrink and a rocket by Bob Inskeep to centerfield in which Corey Jutte bobbled away.
Inskeep scored a few moments later on a single from Eric Bernhold to give the visitors a 6-4 lead.
"We made some very costly mistakes which came back to bite us tonight," explained Cardinal head coach Justin Firks. "We lost the game, but we gave it everything we had despite those few mistakes. We are out of tournament and this is our last game, so we tried to instill in the kids what it means to play for pride and I felt like they did a great job coming out tonight and fighting."
Despite loading the bases in their half of the fourth inning off relief pitcher Jimmy Stechschulte, the Cardinals failed to pull any closer until the sixth inning when Cory Barlage scored on an RBI double by Jutte.
That is as close as New Bremen got however, as Stechschulte finished things off with a pair of strikeouts and a toss to Inskeep at first base to end the game.
"We have had a few run-rule wins this year, so to end the regular season with a tight game is not a bad thing at all," commented Wiss. "Towards the end tonight, it seemed like a tournament atmosphere. There was some tension in the air, and that's exactly how it's going to be each time out from this point on."
With their record still unblemished at 20-0 and finishing at 9-0 in the league, the Wildcats embark on their postseason today at home against the New Knoxville Rangers - a team they dismantled a couple of weeks ago by nearly 30 runs before the Rangers threw in the towel in the third inning. New Bremen's season ends with a 5-16 overall mark and a 2-7 record in the conference.