“Everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong those first two games,” Wausau coach Jeremy Jirschele said. “But it teaches the kids how to deal with adversity and understand that, hey, everything’s not going to go your way all the time and teams aren’t just going to roll over for you.
“It was kind of a reality check. I give them a lot of credit because they didn’t quit and didn’t sulk on those two games. They realized we just had to be in the top four to make it to the semifinals, and they really turned it around.
“It’s good to hit your stride going into something like this. It’s kind of like when you get those wild-card teams in baseball and football where they start off slow and kind of make a run when they find their groove. I think that was a huge component of our week at the state tournament.”
Another big part of the state comeback effort was the return of third baseman/pitcher Landon Parlier. He missed the first two games with a foot injury, but went 12-for-14 with 18 RBIs the rest of the way.
“When you have a veteran leader like Landon, just having him on the field — whether he does something or not — is a nice boost,” Jirschele said.
Parlier and fellow right-handers Brandt Rice and Blake Nichols are among Wausau’s top pitchers. Jirschele said his best arms throw with good velocity somewhere in the 60s.
“It’s a group of boys that love playing the game,” said Jirschele, whose son Keagan plays shortstop and pitches. “I guess I would be lying if I said this was a surprise, but at the same time, I think it’s a relief because we did have expectations of doing well at state. I stressed to the kids that we have to check one box at a time. You can’t look at the end goal. If you do that, you get nipped in the butt early.
Hamilton West Side’s Katelyn Polido displays her Little League Baseball patch during the state tournament in Maumee. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY SCOTT GRAU
“We’ve got some veteran guys that I feel are tough outs and are going to make pitchers work. We always feel we have a chance if we’ve still got outs remaining no matter what the score is. We’ve got some pretty good team speed and your prototypical power hitters as well, at least for 11- and 12-year-olds.”
Coomer doesn’t know much about Wausau. Most of his information has come from Internet searching.
“We’re going in kind of blind,” Coomer said. “I know their scores, but I’m not sure of the competition. I know we can’t look too far ahead. I’ve seen that happen too many times.”
Jirschele knows little about Hamilton as well, but he’s not going to lose sleep over the lack of a scouting report.
“You’ll see one time through the lineup who can do what and who can’t do what,” he said. “I’m big on taking care of our business and doing what we do at the highest level. You just hope that’s good enough to be on top at the end.”
Wausau is part of a nine-team league with National and American divisions. The league sent teams to the regional in 2003 and 2007, but Wisconsin has never had a World Series qualifier.
Hamilton West Side’s Braedyn Moore delivers a pitch during the state tournament in Maumee. He picked up a pair of mound wins during that event. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY SCOTT GRAU
Jirschele likes to stay busy with the game of baseball. He’s the head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“I really love working with youth,” Jirschele said. “I also have a youth travel organization that I run. I have eight teams from 8U all the way to 13U, and a lot of these boys are in my organization as well.”
Asked if college players or Little Leaguers are tougher to deal with, Jirschele laughed.
“I would say they both have their moments,” he said. “When the college guys come to you, they’re kind of set in their ways. It’s tougher to get them out of those habits. These young guys are still pretty raw in spots, but they’re good listeners and want to work hard. It’s really fun to watch them grow.”
Neither coach was ready to name a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game. Coomer likely will go with either Braedyn Moore or Lake Cundiff.
Hamilton West Side head coach Ken Coomer has his game face on during the state tournament in Maumee. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY SCOTT GRAU
The six-team regional will send one team to the World Series on Aug. 17-27 in South Williamsport, Pa. Here are the state results (in the order the games were played) for each team:
Hamilton West Side — Defeated Maumee 13-4, Mt. Vernon 12-3, Canfield 5-4 and 15-4
Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Mich.) — Defeated Rockford 6-3, Union Township Kids 15-0, West Portage 12-2, Taylor North Central 11-1, Kingsford 17-0, Dexter 10-0
Hinsdale (Ill.) — Defeated River Forest 8-4, Moline National 13-4, Beardstown 4-0
Lexington Eastern (Ky.) — Defeated Hazard Perry County 10-0, Stan Spence 11-3, Clay County 14-2, Nelson County 10-7, Bowling Green Eastern 11-8
New Albany (Ind.) — Defeated Wabash 14-1, New Castle 13-1, Brownsburg 17-16, Ireland 16-8, Brownsburg 14-4, Wabash 26-21
Wausau National (Wis.) — Lost to Appleton National 14-3, lost to West Madison American 19-2, defeated Whitefish Bay 14-0, Rice Lake 20-5, Kenosha American 13-3, West Madison American 7-5, Kenosha American 13-9
Hamilton West Side’s Lake Cundiff connects for one of his four home runs during the state tournament in Maumee. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY SCOTT GRAU
Great Lakes Regional
Here is the schedule for the Great Lakes Regional at the Grand Park Sports Campus, 711 E. 191st St., Westfield, Ind. Games will be played on Diamond 17 and the format will be modified double elimination:
Sunday, Aug. 6
Game 1 — Hamilton West Side vs. Wausau National (Wis.), 4 p.m.
Game 2 — New Albany (Ind.) vs. Lexington Eastern (Ky.), 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 7
Game 3 — Game 1 winner vs. Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Mich.), 10 a.m.
Game 4 — Game 2 winner vs. Hinsdale (Ill.), 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 8
Game 5 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 6 — Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 9
Game 7 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 2 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 10
Game 8 — Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 5 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 11
Game 9 — Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 winner, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 12
Game 10 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 5 p.m.