MIDDLETON — After toiling behind the plate during the Sun Prairie baseball team’s opening shutout victory Tuesday, Matt DePrey set aside his catcher’s mask, mitt and gear and took the mound for the sectional championship game later in the day.
DePrey, a junior right-hander, proceeded to blank Verona on three hits over six innings in Sun Prairie’s 10-0 sectional-title victory that was halted due to the run rule after the second-seeded Cardinals scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
“I just do what I do by throwing strikes,” said DePrey, who recently added a slower-paced slider to his pitching repertoire. “My defense just made plays. Just throw strikes. That’s all you’ve got to do.”
Sun Prairie’s third victory this season over ninth-seeded Verona sent the Big Eight Conference runner-up Cardinals (22-7) to next week’s WIAA Division 1 state tournament in Grand Chute, where they will meet Oak Creek in a quarterfinal on June 11.
That triumph followed Sun Prairie’s 7-0 sectional semifinal victory over third-seeded Madison West, a game in which junior right-hander Noah Wendler scattered five hits over the first six innings before giving way to reliever Logan Lange.
“It means everything,” Wendler said of advancing to state. “That was our goal the whole year — just try to get to state, take it one game at a time, and (now) see if we can get three more.”
Said Sun Prairie coach Rob Hamilton: “Like we’ve said all season, (pitching) is where it starts. Wendler and Matt DePrey were awesome today. They had a lot of really, really good help behind them. But, man, they filled up the (strike) zone. They were keeping their pitches low and getting ahead for the most part. They, obviously, two shutouts, couldn’t have pitched much better.”
Sun Prairie junior right fielder Spencer Bartel’s diving catch for the final out in the first inning robbed Verona senior catcher Brooks Brazeau of a run-scoring hit and was a key play prior to Sun Prairie’s bats coming alive.
Sophomore designated hitter Liam Moreno, hobbled by a sprained left ankle, delivered a two-out, two-run single to center — propelling the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead in the second inning against Verona (15-12), which saw its six-game winning streak snapped.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play somewhere,” Moreno said. “Since there were two outs, I was trying to drive it to a gap. It got in on my hands and I fisted it out to center.”
Sun Prairie pulled away with four runs in the third inning. Sophomore second baseman Carson Shepard drove in two with a two-out triple to right, boosting the lead to 6-0.
Sun Prairie, which took advantage of five Verona errors in the game, walked off with the win on Wendler’s RBI single in the sixth. Wendler, playing third base for the first time this season, collected three hits against Verona and five overall Tuesday.
“We ran into just a buzz saw of a team today that can flat-out hit the ball, and they did,” Wildcats coach Brad D’Orazio said. “They were putting pressure on us the whole game.”
Verona beat Madison Memorial 4-1 in the semifinals as Reagan Klawiter tossed a four-hit complete game and was backed by a three-run home run from Ryan Taylor.
Verona 4, Madison Memorial 1
Klawiter, a senior left-hander, scattered four hits and Taylor, a sophomore shortstop, blasted his three-run homer to right field in the third inning, propelling the Wildcats to a win in the first semifinal, which began after a 1-hour, 51-minute rain and lightning delay.
“Reagan pitched fantastic in that first game,” D’Orazio said.
The Wildcats grabbed a 4-0 lead in the top of the sixth on senior center fielder Tyler McWilliams’ run-scoring infield hit. Fifth-seeded Madison Memorial (15-11) rallied with a run in the sixth. Spartans junior left fielder Max Hoeser, who led off the inning with his second hit, scored on some aggressive base running following an infield hit by senior Kyle Jungers.
Sun Prairie 7, Madison West 0
Wendler stymied Madison West (13-11) with primarily fastballs and sliders and catcher DePrey’s two-out, two-run double into the left-center gap broke open the game during the Cardinals’ three-run fifth inning.
With two out in the first inning, Bartel singled, walked and scored on sophomore left fielder Josh Caron’s two-out single. Sun Prairie added two more runs in the second inning on two-out, run-scoring singles by senior center fielder Jacob Powley and Shepard.
Regents senior third baseman Otto Treichel and junior right fielder Henry Pitsch reached on hits in the top of the second inning, but the Regents’ threat ended when Sun Prairie turned a double play.
After the Regents’ Pitsch made a diving catch in right field for the second out in the fifth, Sun Prairie put away the game with three runs.
SUN PRAIRIE 10, VERONA 0 (6)
Verona 000 000 - 0 3 5
Sun Prairie 024 013 - 10 11 0
Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Kisting (L; 2.2-7-2-2-2), Ducharme (2-2-0-0-0), Pederson (0.1-2-2-2-0); DePrey (W; 6-3-0-4-5).
Leading hitters — SP: Moreno (2x4), Powley (2x2), Wendler (3x4). 2B — Caron, Moreno, Powley. 3B — Bartel, Shepard.
VERONA 4, MADISON MEMORIAL 1
Verona 003 001 0 - 4 7 1
Madison Memorial 000 001 0 - 1 4 1
Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Klawiter (W, 7-4-1-2-5); Kerkhoff (L, 5.2-5-3-3-2), Jungers (1.1-2-0-0-2).
Leading hitters — V: Brazeau (2x4), Pederson (2x4). 2B — Pederson. HR — Taylor. MM: Hoeser (2x3).
SUN PRAIRIE 7, MADISON WEST 0
Madison West 000 000 0 - 0 5 3
Sun Prairie 120 031 x - 7 10 1
Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Grosse (L; 4.2-9-6-3-3), Burgess (1.1-1-0-0-0); Wendler (W, 6-5-0-0-3), Lange (1-0-0-1-0).
Leading hitters — SP: Bartel (2x3), Shepard (2x4), Wendler (2x3). 2B — DePrey, Knorr, Bartel.