Eau Claire North clung to the edge of the cliff that No. 1 seed Stevens Point had slipped from earlier.
But the Huskies were able to climb back and move within sight of a fourth straight state tournament berth.
After escaping Marshfield 5-4 in 11 innings in Tuesday’s Division 1 sectional semifinal at Carson Park, the Huskies moved out to a 6-0 lead on Wisconsin Rapids when play in the championship game was suspended in the third inning due to an electrical storm and rain.
The two teams will pick up play at that point at noon today with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
Wisconsin Rapids advanced with a 6-4 upset of Stevens Point in the day’s first game.
“I was impressed by the way the kids fought back as the favorite,” North coach Bob Johnson said. “Now we’ve got to go out and finish.”
A towering two-run home run off the scoreboard by Sam Stange capped North’s early hitting spree in the title game which was called at that point with no one out in the bottom of the third.
The Huskies (21-4) scored three runs in the first with Anthony Pogodzinski’s double the big blow and added a run in the second on Joe Feck’s single.
In the third, Carter Hesselman led off with a single and Stange, who went 7 for 8 for the day at the plate, followed with a blast of 400 feet off the scoreboard.
Coming into today’s game, the Huskies lose any pitching from Stange, Hesselman and Austin Goetsch, who was working on a shutout in the second game, allowing just two harmless singles.
Stange was also the man of the hour on the mound for the Huskies, coming on for Hesselman in the fifth inning and hurling shutout ball the rest of the way, striking out 11 and allowing just two hits. He had reached his limit of 102 pitches.
“I was ready to remove him after 72 pitches but he said he was just fine,” Johnson said. “He was throwing three different pitches but went back to two and got the job done.”
Anthony Pogodzinski delivered the key hit for the Huskies. With one out in the bottom of the 11th, Stange singled for his seventh hit of the day and wound up scoring from first on Pogodzinski’s drive to left-center that couldn’t be handled by the outfielder.
Stange allowed a runner to second in the seventh but got a strikeout to retire the side and in the ninth, a walk and hit batter and a ball that got past the catcher put runners on second and third but Stange forced the next batter to ground to short. In the 11th, Isaac Meverden doubled with two out but a strikeout retired the side.
Marshfield went up 4-3 in the fifth but the Huskies tied it on Stange’s second double and Gabe Richardson’s sharp single to left. The next five innings went scoreless.
It all might not have been except for a sensational defensive play by Gabe O’Brien in right. Marshfield had scored two runs and had two on when Isaiah Baierl sent a shot to right that looked like it might fall for two more runs. But O’Brien dove and came up with the ball.
“Gabe has developed into a complete outfielder,” Johnson said. “His first step is impressive. I felt he would make that catch.”
North, led by Stange, three hits by Hesselman and O’Brien’s two doubles, outhit the Tigers 15-5 but left 13 runners on base. Ryan Krueger got two of Marshfield’s five hits.
In the day’s first game, Wisconsin Rapids got out to a 5-1 lead in the first three innings, saw Stevens Point score three in the fourth to pull within one and then added an insurance run in the seventh on Nathan Krommenakker’s double.
Donovan Brandl started and got the win for the Red Raiders while JD Schultz, the first of three Panther pitchers, took the loss. Krommenakker went 3 for 3 and Josh Zwicke had a triple to lead the attack. Dayne Hoyord had two hits for Point.
NORTH 5, MARSHFIELD 4
AB-R-H-RBI: Ryan Krueger, cf, 4-0-0-0, Brent Bohman, cf, 4-0-0-0, Mason Coffren, 1b, 3-0-0-0, Isaiah Baierl, 3b, 4-0-0-0, Ben Gust, dh, 5-0-0-0, Riley Boshak, rf, 5-0-0-0, Preston Wagner, 2b, 5-1-1-0, Isaac Meverden, lf,4-0-1-0, Jacob Earll, c, 4-1-1-0. Totals 37-4-5-1.
Gabe O’Brien, rf, 6-1-2-1, Carter Hesselman, p/ss, 6-1-3-0, Sam Stange, cf/p, 6-2-5-1, Anthony Pogodzinski, 1b, 5-0-1-1, Gabe Richardson, 3b, 3-0-1-1, Cal Fadness, dh, 4-0-0-0, Jaxon Vance, ss, 3-0-0-0, Ely Johnson, cf, 2-0-1-0, Joel Zachow, 2b, 5-0-1-0, Keegan Dehnke, lf, 4-1-1-0, Joe Feck, c, 0-0-0-0, Cody Dayton, cf, 0-0-0-0, Xavier Bembnister, cr, 0-0-0-0. Totals 44-5-15-4.
Marshfield 002 020 000 00 — 4 5 1
North 200 110 000 01 — 5 15 3
E — Meverden, Richardson, Stange 2. LOB — Marshfield 8, North 13. 2B – O’Brien 2, Stange 2, Zachow, Meverden. 3B – Krueger. SB – Dehnke. SAC – Dehnke, Meverden, Bohman.
IP H R ER BB SO
Will Voss 4 2/3 10 4 4 1 2
Wagner, L 5 2/3 5 1 1 3 6
Hesselman 4 1/3 3 4 1 1 1
Stange, W 6 2/3 2 0 0 2 11
WP – Voss, Hesselman, Wagner. PB – Earll, Feck 2. HBP – Pogodzinski (by Voss), Krueger (by Hesselman, Stange). U – Chuck Morning, Larry Ausman, Paul Ausman. T – 2:50.