August 2, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Freeport returns to region tournament

Black Sox take down rival Upsala

By HERMAN LENSING | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The Freeport Black Sox returned to the Region 8C Amateur Baseball Tournament, winning two games over the weekend.

The Black Sox clinched the No. 3 seed from the Victory League South/West Division, winning 10-6 over the St. Wendel Saints July 30 in St. Wendel. Leadoff batter Trevor Sawyer was instrumental in the win.

“I am never too picky about where I am at (in the batting order),” he said. “I just try to go up and get on base.”

He did just that, collecting two hits and scoring three runs. He picked up an RBI in the second when a would-be sacrifice fly was dropped. That RBI and his first-inning run gave the Black Sox a 2-0 lead. 

That lead did not last.

St. Wendel, with a second-inning home run from Tanner Reis, a third-inning double from Logan Harren and singles by Tanner Tomasek and Tyler Huls, took a 3-2 lead. Fourth-inning singles by Jake Ethen and Pete Schumer increased the St. Wendel lead off Freeport starter Andrew Kerzman. 

Mitch Reller came to the mound for Freeport in the sixth. The Black Sox had cut the Saints lead to 4-3 with an RBI double by Ben Millard. 

Austin Dickmann’s seventh-inning home run, a single by Harren and two Freeport errors gave the Saints a 7-3 lead. Then, Freeport took control.

Ike Sawyer started the eighth with a home run. Singles by Trevor Sawyer and Matt Johnson and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. St. Wendel brought Ethen to the mound only to see Nate Mettenburg’s third single, a walk to Mason Toutges and a fielder’s choice drive in runs.

“We were able to stick with it and have good approaches at the plate,” Trevor Sawyer said. 

 In the ninth, a walk to Isaac Sawyer and singles by Trevor Sawyer and Bryan Benson combined with a sacrifice fly by Brandon Sawyer and a two-base St. Wendel error brought insurance runs. Cody Rose also singled in the game.

“We kept getting guys on base and good things happened,” Trevor Sawyer said.

Reller faced only three batters, striking out two in the ninth. 

Both St. Wendel and Freeport advanced to the Region 8C Tournament. For St. Wendel, it is the first trip since 1996. The Saints posted a 10-0 eight-inning win July 29 in Opole. Dickmann allowed one hit in the complete game. Reis was 3-for-4 with a double.

Freeport 3, Upsala 2

Freeport qualified for the third-place game with a 3-2 win over Upsala in an elimination game July 29 in Upsala.

Iver Papke started and kept Upsala’s hitting in check, pitching most of the game with a 1-0 lead. That run came in the third inning, when Isaac Sawyer walked and Trevor Sawyer and Benson singled.

For much of the game, Upsala never had a serious threat. Third baseman Johnson, second baseman Mettenburg and first baseman Jake Braegelmann turned an inning-ending double play in the second, and Trevor Sawyer made a sliding catch to end the third after Upsala loaded the bases. 

The Black Sox picked up two more runs in the eighth. With two outs, Freeport sandwiched a walk by Mettenburg between RBI singles by Braegelmann and Toutges for two more runs. They would need them.

Upsala’s Levi Lampert doubled to open the eighth and Justin Cichon was hit by a pitch. Following a strike out, Papke walked Matt Swanson, Brock Cichon and Brady Burggraff and found himself with a one-run lead.

Carter Neuenschwander was called in to finish the game. He gave up a double to CJ Clear in the ninth inning and, with one out, intentionally walked Lampert. Johnson speared a line drive down the third-base line for the second out, and Benson caught the final out.

Along with a trip to regions, Freeport won the Wannawin Trophy, which goes to the winner of each Freeport-Upsala showdown. The trophy is not the only thing emerging as a tradition between the teams.

“This is the third consecutive year we played them in an elimination game,” Ike Sawyer said. “Last year, we also won.”

Freeport drafted Tate Lange of Opole for regional play, which begins at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, in Avon. 


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