The East Troy Post 188 legion baseball team celebrates winning the 17U State Tournament in Plover last week. The team ended its season with a 2-0 victory over Plover for the championship, finishing 17-11 overall.

Legion baseball team brings home title

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

It’s safe to say the East Troy Post 188 legion baseball team may have flown a bit under the radar heading into last week’s 17U State Tournament in Plover.

That certainly wasn’t the case by the time East Troy left town.

East Troy put a resounding stamp on its season with a 4-1 record at state, including a 2-0 victory over Plover in the title tilt Thursday to bring home the legion’s second state championship and first since 1999.

Post 188 ended the summer at 17-11, including 11 wins in its last 12 games. East Troy’s only blemish at state came in a 7-6 loss to Plover last Tuesday.

“These guys just bought in completely,” East Troy coach Kelly Lehman said. “They showed up for practices ready to learn and get better. It’s great when they can see what the extra work does for them. It pays to put in the time.

“They made huge leaps this summer. Hopefully it carries over to a great offseason and high school season. They learned not only to believe in themselves, but also in each other. They just picked each other up.”

Lehman also was on the coaching staff of the legion’s 1999 state title squad.

East Troy scored the only two runs it needed in the title game in the bottom of the third inning.

A single by Roman Evans drove in Hunter Orlowski, who had singled, followed by a double steal, as Quinn Erdmann, who walked, scored the second run of the inning.

From there, Post 188 turned things over to Mike Rosin and Andrew Gross to shut down Plover.

Rosin worked the first six innings, and allowed three hits, seven walks and struck out four. Gross struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh inning.

“Mike is a control pitcher that hits spots and keeps you guessing,” East Troy assistant coach John Wick said. “When Andrew came in to shut it down, he was pure power and speed. Thirteen pitches. Three strikeouts. Champions. What a great effort.”

Wick, who had served as the team’s general manager this season, returned to the field for the end of the tournament in place of Lehman, who had to leave for a pre-planned family vacation.

The insurance run scored by Erdmann turned out to be a key moment in a tight game, Wick said.

“Quinn Erdmann doesn’t always show up in the stats, but his leadership as a vocal guy on the field all tournament was a huge boost,” he said. “Plover had a play on to pick him off at home, and he beat it by two steps. He was dancing and talking all the way.”

Collecting hits for Post 188 were Rosin, Evans, Brandon Bakken and Orlowski.

Wick said his message to the team before the game was to be ready for some type of adversity – because it was going to happen.

“When the challenge came, how they handled it would determine the outcome,” he said. “Four times Plover had runners in scoring position, and four times, we shut it down. Amazing job handling it.”

The efforts by Lehman and his assistant coaches, Larry Dope and Pete Gross, certainly didn’t go unnoticed, Wick said.

“Coach Lehman did a great job preparing the guys,” Wick said. “They grew up so much with his coaching. … (The coaches) gave so much of their time to make this a success. So much so, we hope to create a 19U and 17U roster next summer.”

Spending a week away from home brought another challenge for the East Troy contingent, Wick said, but there were many in the community and from within the team itself who stepped up to help.

And those efforts also were key.

“There are so many people to thank,” he said. “Sammy’s Place has been a huge financial supporter these last three years. He has helped keep our player costs to a fraction of other programs. Loomis Martin Post 188 was always asking what we needed.

“Taylor and Sons and the East Troy Home Run Club also donated money to keep costs down. The Orlowski family just kept finding food for the kids after games. All of our parents were slipping me money to cover the hotel costs or chipping in to get food. It was a very humbling week.”

Only blemish

East Troy’s first loss since July 2 came two days before in the 7-6 setback to Plover.

The game was meaningless for Post 188, as it already had clinched a spot in the title tilt – which made for a different type of strategy, Wick said.

“Hunter (Orlowski) battled,” he said. “We knew we wanted to save pitchers for the championship, and after a rough start, he almost went five and kept us in the game.”

Orlowski pitched 4-2/3 innings, and allowed eight hits, seven earned runs, three walks and struck out two. Bakken worked the final 1-1/3 innings, walked one and struck out three.

Offensive leaders were Ben Gerber (two hits, RBI), Gross (hit, run, two RBI), Rosin (hit, run, RBI), Mac Dudkiewicz (hit, run) and Kyle Lehman (run).

 
 

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