MARSHFIELD — It started with one.
With the bases empty in the top of the second inning, Campbell Kapanke drew an innocuous one-out walk. Then Jack Redwine followed with a single to center. Carson Windeshausen added a single of his own to get in on the fun.
And it was only getting started.
Ten Eau Claire Memorial batters reached base in succession. And by the time the barrage had ended, the result was in no doubt: The Old Abes were going to the state tournament.
That eight-run second inning was more than enough to boost Memorial to a 10-0 win over D.C. Everest in the Division 1 sectional finals at Jack Hackman Field in Marshfield. And for their reward, the Old Abes earned a trip to the state tournament for the first time since 2008.
“Any time you get into the postseason like this, there’s a certain level of tension,” Memorial coach Dan Roehl said. “But when you have an offensive explosion like that, the weight is lifted. It’s fantastic.”
After Windeshausen put the Abes ahead 1-0, Memorial capitalized on a plethora of Evergreen errors and miscues to pull away in the second. The Memorial bats did their part too — Kapanke ripped a two-RBI double in his second plate appearance of the frame, and Vincent Trapani lined an RBI single.
“Hitting’s definitely contagious on our team,” junior Dylan O’Connell said. “It just felt like we got one base hit after another.”
Hits, errors, wild pitches — it didn’t matter. However the Old Abes scored, it emphatically got the job done.
Memorial will play in the Division 1 state quarterfinals on Friday in Fond du Lac. The Old Abes will learn their opponent after the field is seeded on Tuesday. The semifinals and championship are July 1 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.
“To be playing baseball in June with our best friends is awesome,” Trapani said. “Now we’re getting another chance heading to the state tournament. It’s just awesome.”
The Old Abes will head to state sizzling hot. Since dropping two games to Chippewa Falls to end the regular season, Memorial has won four straight to get to state.
It’s all clicking right now. The pitching, hitting and fielding is at its best, and it’s come at the perfect time.
“I think our attitude has changed,” Trapani said. “This whole season, we’ve known that we can get here. Those two games (against Chippewa Falls) were tough and we weren’t our best. But ultimately, we just kind of banded together and started relying on each other. We’re playing well, and we’re really enjoying it.”
And they want to see where the momentum can take them.
“When you get the four phases of base running, hitting, pitching and defense (clicking), that’s where we are right now,” Roehl said. “You just hope when you start in March that this is where it culminates. You hope that the four phases come together, and they have. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys.”
While the offense did most of its work in the second inning, O’Connell stayed steady throughout five innings on the mound. He held the Evergreens to three hits in the shutout, struck out four and walked none.
The right-hander limited D.C. Everest to one hit through the first four innings. With the pressure alleviated by the eight-run second, he could focus on getting one out at a time.
“It really boosted my confidence on the mound, and our fielders were playing really well today as well,” O’Connell said. “It was good.”
Eight starters recorded at least one hit in the win, and seven tallied an RBI.
Memorial’s lineup has shown its balance over the last two weeks, and flexed it again Monday.
“I feel like everyone on our team, one through nine, can put the barrel on the ball,” O’Connell said. “It’s a good feeling to have that confidence in everyone on the team.”
To reach the sectional final, the Old Abes rode their bats and Trapani’s arm to a 9-3 win over River Falls in the semifinals on Monday morning. Trapani worked five strong innings, and the lineup had contributions from all over.
When the sectional championship plaque passed into the hands of the Old Abes, it was their first taste of the hardware in 13 years. There’s only one more trophy left to win: a state championship, something the program last won in 1968.
“We’re really looking forward to Friday,” Roehl said. “We feel like we have a staff that’s kind of built for this postseason, so we’re really looking forward to the next step.”
Eau Claire Memorial 10, D.C. Everest 0
ECM 082 00 — 10 9 0
DCE 000 00 — 0 3 3
WP: Dylan O’Connell (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 K, 0 BB). LP: Brock Babish (1.2 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 K, 2 BB). Leading hitters: Memorial: Peyton Platter 2-4 (RBI), Campbell Kapanke 1-2 (2B, RBI), Austin Baker 1-3 (RBI, 2 R).
Eau Claire Memorial 9, River Falls 3
RF 002 001 0 — 3 4 0
ECM 142 020 X — 9 11 2
WP: Vincent Trapani (5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 K, 3 BB). LP: Eli Condon (1.1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 K, 2 BB). Leading hitters: Memorial: Austin Baker 2-3 (3 RBI), Jake Becker 2-3, Luke Erickson 2-4 (HR, 2 RBI), Peyton Platter 2-3 (2B). River Falls: Ragan Pinnow 2-4 (2B, 2 RBI).