It wasn’t pretty, but the No. 3 seeded Viroqua Blackhawks baseball team survived to advance in the WIAA Division 2 state tournament playoffs winning a 4-3 extra-inning nail-biter over No. 6 seed Dodgeville. The sub-regional game was played at Viroqua’s Park Bowl, Thursday, May 25.
The Blackhawks dominated every aspect of the game, outhitting the Dodgers by a 9-to-3 margin and Viroqua pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts, but it took some late-inning heroics to earn the win.
With VHS trailing 3-2, and heading into their final at bat in the bottom of the seventh inning, Dalton Hoffland stroked a one-out line drive run scoring single to right center field scoring Dalton Burckhardt with the tying run, sending the game into extra innings. Kollin Burckhardt, who came on to relieve starting pitcher Kory Vold in the fifth inning, retired the Dodgers in the top of the eighth, setting the stage for the game-winning rally.
After the first two Hawk hitters were retired on fly-outs, Kollin Burckhardt singled to center and moved to third on a single to right field by Hunter Vikemyr. Then on a 3-0 count Ryan Hannah scratched out an infield single to shortstop, driving in the game winner and extending the Blackhawks season.
The Dodgers grabbed an early 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the first, before the Blackhawks tied the score at 2-2 with single tallies in the second and third innings. Brett Skrede opened the second inning with a sharp single to right field, moved to third on a single by Andrew Wedwick and later scored on a base hit to left by Jacob Strangstalien. Hannah walked to open the third inning, moved up 90 feet when Dalton Burckhardt was hit by a pitch and later scored on a clutch two-out single to left by Wedwick. The inning could have been a big one for the Hawks but Vold’s long drive to left, with two runners aboard and two out, was hauled in on a leaping catch by Dodgeville’s Riley Colonek.
The game did not stay tied for long, as the visitors pushed across a run in the top of the fourth to grab a 3-2 lead, setting the stage for the late-inning Viroqua comeback.
Despite the win, it was a frustrating game for the Blackhawks, who committed five errors and left 11 runners stranded in the contest. The Dodgers, meanwhile, stranded a whopping 15 base-runners in the game.
It took Vold 99 pitches to get through the first four innings, allowing three hits, but struggling to find the strike zone, issuing six walks and hitting a batter. Kollin Burckhardt worked the final four innings in relief to pick up the win, but also struggled with his control, recording six strikeouts, but walked two and hit three Dodgeville batters.
Wedwick and Strangstalien led the nine-hit attack, each going 2-fo-4 with an RBI. Hannah was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Hoffland was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
The win advanced the Blackhawks (12-14) to the second round of the playoffs where they were scheduled to play at No. 2 seed Platteville High School, Tuesday, May 30.