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Hurley routs Drummond to win Regional title


HURLEY — Hurley waited six years to win another regional title. The Midgets only needed 4.5 innings — in the entire tournament — to break that drought and return to sectionals for the first time since 2010.

The Midgets beat Drummond 11-0 in Thursday's WIAA Division 4 regional final.

The top-seeded Midgets got a first-round bye and then advanced through the semifinal when No. 5 Washburn forfeited due to a class trip. Hurley then beat No. 2 Drummond, last year's D-4 regional champion, for the third time this season.

Drummond had to use its ace pitcher, Colin Mergen, in Wednesday's 4-3 semifinal win over Butternut-Mercer, but Hurley still beat Drummond by an average of 10 runs this year.

The baseball team is the fourth Hurley squad to win a regional title this spring. It joins softball, boys track-and-field and boys golf as regional champs.

“It's amazing; I've been waiting four years to do it,” Hurley senior third baseman Kohl Manzanares said. “We came so close my freshman year. Tonight, we finally pulled through and got it.”

The Midgets broke the championship game open with seven runs in the third inning and got out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the fifth to finish the game.

Hurley had eight hits, but none of them went for extra bases, which may have had something to do with the week off without a game thanks to the Midgets not needing to play the first two rounds of the tournament or a pitcher throwing less heat.

“It's not my ideal way to get here,” Hurley coach Aaron Bender said. “I would have much preferred playing a full regional. That's kind of the way you want to see the playoffs go. Everybody else is getting these games and we get one. They're getting a lot more live at-bats. You saw it. We picked up some big hits, but at the same time, we still had guys struggling at the plate. That comes with not seeing live pitching enough, not seeing different guys enough. We could have worked out some kinks with a couple games going in.

“Nonetheless, still a wonderful win.”

Hurley scored two runs with two outs in the first inning.

Austin Kolpin and Chris Rye both drove in runs with ground balls that found holes for base hits. Bender tried to score Kolpin on Rye's hit, but Drummond centerfielder Jake Johnson threw a bullet home to get the out and end the inning. Bender said he knew he was testing the best arm on the team.

"You do that because it has to be a perfect throw," he said.

The Midgets led off the second with back-to-back walks and both of those runs scored. Natalle Colassaco came in when Dante Bender reached on an infield error and Riley Eitrem scored on a wild pitch. The Midgets had the bases loaded with one out but couldn't score anymore.

Hurley had more success scoring in the third.

Rye and Colassaco started with back-to-back singles and a walk to Josh Quello loaded the bases. A base on balls to Kohl Manzanares plated Rye. Bender hit a base hit to score Colassaco and Quello. Ronnie Nickel drove in Manzanares with an infield single. Two runs scored on two seperate errors with a sacrifice fly in between by Kolpin.

Bender got the complete-game win. He struck out two and gave up two hits, he walked four batters in the final two innings, including three in the fifth. He induced a double play back to himself in the fourth; he sent it to Maki at shortstop and Maki threw to Kolpin at first to end the inning. The bases were loaded with two outs in the fifth, but Bender got a ground ball to end it.

Coach Bender said he should have had Dante Bender throw as the long third inning - with 12 Hurley batters up to bat — dragged on.

“I've actually seen it happen to him before and I've seen it happen to other guys before,” he said. “Pitching's a rhythm. A long inning can be horrible. He needed to buckle down at the end and he did.

“I could have easily taken him out of there, but I didn't. He needs to learn how to get out of trouble as well. Successful night for him. He's the guy we go to to get it to the defense, ground balls, fly balls. He did that early.”

Jack Pendergrass started for Drummond and went 2-plus innings. He took the loss.

Hurley (16-8) will play Shell Lake, which has a solid ace pitcher, in Tuesday's sectional semifinal at Bruce at 11 a.m. The Lakers won their regional with a 7-2 victory over Solon Springs. The sectional final is in Bruce at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“We have a lot left in our bats, I hope. We're going to need it for sectionals,” Bender said.

Drummond 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 2 4

Hurley 2 2 7 0 x - 11 8 0


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