GRAND CHUTE — In a battle of the state's two top-ranked baseball teams for the WIAA Division 4 championship on Thursday, it was No. 1 Webster that flexed its muscle.
With a perfect combination of great pitching and timely hitting, Webster is tough to stop. The Mineral Point players knew that coming into the game.
Webster saved ace pitcher Jack Washburn for the final — and he was lights-out. The Oregon State recruit threw a two-hitter — and Mineral Point didn’t have a hit after the first inning — as the Tigers beat the Pointers 11-1 at Fox Cities Stadium.
Webster, which won the Division 3 state title in 2018, capped its season with a 30-0 record. Mineral Point finished 27-1.
“What we did this year isn’t measured by how we played today,” Mineral Point coach Jordan Tibbits said. “It’s been an unbelievable year — the fact that we got here undefeated and the road we took. I’m just super-proud of these guys.”
“I think our team should be very proud of what we accomplished this year,” Mineral Point sophomore Liam Stumpf said. “Even though we didn’t come out with the win today, we played one (heck) of a ballclub. … Nothing to be ashamed of. Very impressive team, so I think we should be very happy with our season.”
The Mineral Point hitters hadn’t faced a pitcher similar to Washburn all season. The senior right-hander throws in the 90-mph range and mixes in a slider and other off-speed pitches.
“When you put Jack on the mound, he’s a pretty intimidating force,” said Webster coach and former major-league veteran pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who is Jack’s father. “I think we had kind of that ace in the hole when you put him out there.”
Just how good an athlete is Jack Washburn? Two weeks ago, he won the WIAA Division 3 state track and field title in the long jump, took third in the high jump and finished sixth in the triple jump.
Washburn came into the game with a 0.13 ERA and allowed just eight hits all season with 111 strikeouts. Washburn struck out 12 against Mineral Point.
“He was hard to hit today,” Stumpf said. “I think we put the ball in play today quite a bit, so we adjusted well. We just couldn’t find any openings.”
In the bottom of the first, Stumpf got a one-out single and Justin Baehler followed with a double to right field. Stumpf tried to score, but he was thrown out at the plate. With Baehler advancing to third on the throw home, he scored soon after on a wild pitch.
After that inning, Washburn settled in and allowed just two baserunners the rest of the game. Both runners reached on Webster errors.
“If you’re going to get to him, you’re going to get to him in the first inning,” said Jarrod Washburn, who pitched in the majors for 12 seasons for three teams. “I tell him, ‘You need to warm up better, because obviously you’re not ready to go in the first inning.’ But that’s just how he is. He’s shaky in the first, but if he gets through that first inning, then the other team’s in trouble.”
With Curtis Cox on the mound for Mineral Point, Webster sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs in the second. A 5-1 lead early in the game took the wind out of the Pointers' sails.
The Tigers tacked on two runs in the fourth to go up, 7-1. Knowing it was an uphill climb, the Mineral Point players wanted to have fun playing in the state title game.
“We knew we were facing one (heck) of a pitcher, just go out and have fun,” Stumpf said. “That’s the best way to do it. We got down in the second or third inning and we just told the guys, ‘Let’s just have fun. Let’s go out and enjoy this.’ I think we all did this.”
After going 5-20 four seasons ago, Tibbits helped orchestrate turning the Mineral Point program around. He was happy to take home some hardware this year.
“Second, you don’t want second, but from where we’ve come, we’ve come this far,” Tibbits said. “We’ll take a second place any day, especially when you’re going up probably against one of the best small school baseball teams I think of all time with their pitching.”