The defending summer baseball state champion Franklin Sabers will get a chance to defend their crown after defeating Marquette on Friday morning in the state semifinals, 6-5.
The extra-inning win was a repeat of the near gut-wrenching circumstances from the state quarterfinal Thursday. Marquette's Nate Siudak hit a three-run homer to tie the game at 5-5 in the seventh after Franklin had recorded two outs with nobody on base to start the inning.
The blast off Ian Malmstadt was eerily similar to what happened one day earlier, when Waukesha West rallied from three runs down in the seventh and tied the game with two outs on a two-run homer by Alex Lawrence.
Franklin won that game against West with seven runs in the eighth, and they didn't need that many this time. Jay Dirienzo led off the bottom of the eighth with a long triple, and after Marquette loaded the bases, Joel Kornhoff singled through the box to give the Sabers another crazy victory.
Jake Penegor reached base five times and went 3 for 3, and Kornhoff reached base three times. The biggest blow in regulation was Collin Bertram's grand slam in the fourth, a pinch-hit blast that put the Sabers ahead, 4-2, after the Hilltoppers struck for single tallies in the second and third.
Evan Kruczynski started for Franklin and worked six strong innings, striking out seven. But because tournament regulations limit pitchers to seven combined innings during the two-day tourney, Kruczynski was ineligible to pitch the seventh. He had recorded an out and therefore pitched an inning in the seventh against West.
Malmstadt, the team's top pitcher, had two innings to give after facing West and used them both, eventually emerging with the win after giving up the lead.
The Sabers will meet either West Bend West or Whitefish Bay for the state title at 3:45 p.m. at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point.
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