PINE BLUFF - Clinging to a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning with a berth in the South Section Night League championship game on the line, Platteville pitcher Luke Ware found himself in the biggest pickle of the season in the final inning of last Thursday’s playoff game at Pine Bluff.
Ware, who had entered in relief of Brandon Byrne in the bottom of the sixth inning with a three-run lead, had just issued a bases loaded walk - his third self-inflicted free pass of the inning - that enabled the hosts to trim Platteville’s led to 8-6.
And now with just one out and Pine Bluff designated hitter Brandon Curlin, who already had two hits on the night, strolling to the plate, Ware had to find a way to keep the season alive.
The Platteville righty dug in, determined to extend his team’s season at least another week.
Ware reared back and whiffed Curlin on three pitches. Four pitches later Pine Bluff outfielder Ethan Payne grounded out to second base and Ware and the Woodchucks’ were off the hook and on to the third round of the Night League playoffs.
Platteville (14-12 overall), which scored all eight of its runs in the game’s first four innings, advanced to play at regular season section champ Orfordville in this Thursday night’s South Section championship game.
The Woodchucks, who were eliminated from the Sunday League playoffs with a 4-3 loss at Dodgeville on Aug. 7, took an early 2-0 lead in last Thursday’s game on a Travis Knautz two-run double in the top of the first inning.
Designated hitter Casey Owen’s RBI single an inning later made it 3-0.
Platteville increased its lead to 5-0 in the third inning with a Trevor Kattre sac fly and a Jared Flur RBI single.
After Pine Bluff scratched out three runs on four hits and a Platteville error, the Woodchucks responded with three runs in the fourth to make it 8-3.
Owen (single), Seth Feldman (ground out) and Michael Feldman each drove in runs in the frame.
Platteville 8, Pine Bluff 6
(from Thursday, Aug. 11 @ Pine Bluff)
Platteville 212 300 0 - 8 10 2
Pine Bluff 003 020 1 - 6 10 1
Leading hitters - Pla: Michael Feldman 2x4, Casey Owen 2x3; PB: Danny Elver 3x4, Andrew Z. 2x3, Brandon Carlin 2x4. 2B - Pla: Travis Knautz, Tyler Mancl; PB: Elver, Cory Stamm. 3B - Pla: Owen. W - Brandon Byrne (5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 SO, 4 BB). L - Andrew Z. SV - Luke Ware (2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 SO, 2 BB)