It’s been quite a season for first-year head coach Brandon Walczak and his Spring Valley baseball team.
The Cardinals are currently on a six-game win streak, and their most recent win allowed them to clinch the 2019 Dunn-St. Croix Conference title.
“They all have come a long way since day one and accomplished something that many people didn't expect,” Walczak said. “The few upperclassmen that we have on our team have been great leaders on the field and bench and many of the freshmen and sophomores have done an excellent job of playing consistent and also coming up big in key situations.”
The Cardinals completed their 15-2 regular season with a 7-0 win against Durand on Friday and enter the postseason with a .357 team batting average, which leads the conference.
Spring Valley recorded the second-best ERA behind Boyceville and the second-least amount of errors behind Mondovi.
Prior to Friday night’s game, Walczak told his team to treat their game against the Panthers as if it were a playoff game.
“They did just that,” Walczak said. “Our pitching and fielding were excellent and our hitting came around.”
In Walczak’s eyes, his team has only played two poor defensive innings all season, and he hopes they continue to play consistent ball as the playoffs approach.
“Being able to eliminate mental mistakes and minimize physical mistakes are what we try to preach to the boys and they have done a good job of that,” Walczak said. “This is a great group of kids, and they play together and for each other. I couldn't be more happy for them.”
The Cardinals are poised to continue their strong play in the Division 4 playoffs. Spring Valley earned a bye in the first round of playoffs and will begin postseason play by hosting the winner of No. 4-seeded Prairie Farm (5-7) vs. No. 5-seeded McDonell Catholic (2-12) on Tuesday, May 28, at 5 p.m.
Elmwood/Plum City 5, Durand 3
The Elmwood/Plum City Wolves earned their third win of the season on Monday, May 20, by putting up a three-run second inning to take a final, lasting lead over the Durand Panthers.
The Wolves (3-13) outhit the Panthers (5-11) 6-5 and were led at the plate by Basil Gilles and Dalton Binkowski who went 2-for-4 against Durand's pitchers. One of Binkowski's two hits on the night was the Wolves' only double of the night.
Noah Gansluckner earned the night's win after holding the Panthers to two runs on three hits in the first three innings of the game. Gansluckner was relieved by Jarrod Pelzel who took the mound for the final four innings of the game, surrendered one run on two hits and struck out seven batters.
The Wolves will continue their regular season on Tuesday, May 21, by hosting Elk Mound (11-5) in Elmwood.
New Richmond 2, Ellsworth 0
A loss is a loss, but holding the New Richmond Tigers to two runs is no small feat.
The 3-14 Ellsworth Panthers did so in their 2-0 loss to the Tigers on Monday, May 20, thanks to the noteworthy pitching of freshman Ian Matzek.
Matzek pitched all six innings for the Cardinals, allowed two runs on four hits and struck out two batters while on the mound.
The Tigers (16-7) may have only managed four hits, but the Panthers' offense was even more sparse.
Charlie Stuhl was the only Panther to record a hit in Ellsworth's shutout loss. Stuhl doubled on the first pitch sent his way in the top of the third.
New Richmond scored its first run on an RBI single in the bottom of the first and added an insurance run in the bottom of the third by reaching on an error at second base.
Monday's loss concluded the Panthers' regular season, but they'll begin their postseason on Thursday, May 23, at River Falls (14-4) in the first round of the Division 2 regionals.
Baldwin-Woodville 1, Prescott 0
The Prescott Cardinals' familiar struggles reappeared in Monday night's shutout loss against the Baldwin-Woodville Blackhawks.
While Prescott's (12-8) pitching staff managed to hold the Blackhawks (10-8) to one run, the Prescott batters only found one hit at the plate.
The Cardinals were outhit 10-1, and their lone run came from Jonah Anderson in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Blackhawks earned their one run of the game in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly hit to center field.
Dylan Malmlov pitched the first four innings of the game for the Cardinals and allowed one run on eight hits. Cody Rohl, Noah Matzek and Austin Fox each pitched an inning on the mound before the night was over.
Prescott will conclude its regular season by hosting Eau Claire Regis (14-7) on Tuesday, May 21.