By Ken McKenzie
The Plover Black Sox capped a full day at the Central Wisconsin Classic in registering their second shutout win in a ten hour span by downing Manitowoc Post 88, 9-0.
Alex Lee earned the win, throwing five innings of three-hit ball and amassing 11 strikeouts, including striking out the side in the fourth.
Third baseman Jake Ligenza provided a couple big blows, doubling twice in driving in four runs, while first sacker Cal Giese went 3-3.
Jon Barnes and Evan Mallek also added two hits apiece in the winning effort in the Friday nightcap at Memorial Park in Plover to complete day two of the 26th Annual Dan Schlutter Central Wisconsin Classic. Games continue in pool play all day Saturday with championship round action on Sunday.
“Alex maybe didn’t have all his best stuff tonight but still threw well,” said Manager Wayne Sankey of the 11-strikeout performance by his starting pitcher. “He still got outs, even when he fell behind on some hitters and made key pitches when he had to.”
“It was good to get Andy Bergh in there for a couple innings of work, too,” said Sankey. “I really like our mentality right now; the way we’re coming ready to play. Tomorrow we’ll have two more.”
Jon Barnes led off the home first with a single, took second on a balk and advanced to third on Cal Giese’s single and came in to score as Alex Slowey was safe on a fielder’s choice to gain the early lead.
In the third, left fielder Ben Gutschow singled to open the frame with the Black Sox proceeding to bat around the lineup. Jon Barnes was safe as the shortstop bobbled his grounder and Tyler Nalbach followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners to scoring position.
Giese drove in one run as he beat out a hesitation grounder to short and D.J. Drohner followed with a fly to deep center off the outfielder’s glove to load the bases. Jake Ligenza then ripped a double to left center to score two for the Black Sox.
Evan Mallek followed with a single up the middle and T.J. Schrank registered the RBI as he was safe on a fielder’s choice as Ligenza scored to give Plover a 7-0 lead after three.
The Black Sox tallied their final two runs in the fourth as Barnes led off with another single. A pair of walks around a fielder’s choice set the table for another double by Legions as he drove in two more to push the margin to 9-0.
Andy Bergh relieved Lee after five, earning a four-pitch sixth and working through a bit of trouble in the seventh, yielding two walks and a hit-batsman, but preserving the combined shutout as he got a swinging strikeout to end the game.
Saturday the Classic schedule sets up back-to-back games at Memorial Park for the Black Sox as they host Madison at 5:30 p.m. and then take on Green Bay Southwest at 8 PM in the Saturday finale.
In other Friday tournament action:
Sheboygan dropped Madison Impact, 3-1 after defeating Janesville 4-1 in the game held over by rain from Thursday. Janesville edged Chippewa Falls, 8-7 while Green Bay Southwest split their two game: defeating Genoa City, 3-1, before losing to Chippewa Falls, 9-4, while Genoa City blitzed Manitowoc, 17-2 in early afternoon action.
Manitowoc 000-000-0 0R, 3H, 1E
Plover Black Sox 106-200-x 9R, 12H, 1E
LP: David LaTour 6IP 9R 12H 1K 2BB
Manitowoc: Isaac Pethan 2-4;
Plover: Jon Barnes 2-4; Cal Giese 3-3; Jake Ligenza 2-3, 4 rbi; Evan Mallek 2-3.