Oconto Falls falls short in regional play

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Legion team suffers pair of one-run losses
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Oconto Falls pitcher Mason Sefcik delivers a pitch during Friday’s game against Bonduel. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

The postseason can offer teams some of the most memorable moments of a season. The playoffs can also be heartbreaking for others.
The latter proved to be the case for the Oconto Falls Legion baseball team while playing in the Class A Clintonville Regional over the weekend.
The team opened play against Bonduel on Friday, losing a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Needing to come through the loser’s bracket, Oconto Falls faced Omro in an elimination game Saturday, with Omro claiming a 6-5 win.
In Friday’s matchup, Oconto Falls was tasked with trying to solve Bonduel’s Wyatt Erb, something not many teams have done successfully this summer. Not to be outdone, Oconto Falls starting pitcher Mason Sefcik rose to the challenge and matched the zeros Erb put on the scoreboard.
Acting as the home team, Bonduel scored the game’s lone run in the sixth inning. After two quick outs, Bryce Weier, Riddik Bohm and Cole Letter each delivered singles, with Letter’s bloop hit to right plating Weier.
Oconto Falls was patient at the plate, drawing four walks, but Erb was able to work out the jams.
Oconto Falls’ Mitchell Manns walked in the first while Dylan Nelson drew a walk in the third. Oconto Falls best scoring opportunity came in the fourth, when Manns and Connor Peetz walked. Erb worked out of the inning by striking out two batters.
Kamdan Bloom had the only hit for Oconto Falls, a single in the sixth. After Bloom’s two-out single, Sam Virtues looped what looked to be a hit to right-center, only to have Bonduel centerfielder Jordan Boldt make a diving grab for the final out.
Erb struck out 11 batters while earning the win over 6 2/3 innings. Riley Allen struck out the game’s batters to pick up the save. Sefcik pitched all six innings, striking out six batters along the way.
Following the tough loss, Oconto Falls returned to Clintonville on Saturday to take on Omro in an elimination game.
Locked in another pitcher’s duel, Omro got on the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom of the fourth off Jason Moeller. Oconto Falls answered right back with its first runs of the tournament during the fifth.
Oconto Falls sent 10 batters to the plate to score five runs. Braden Uelmen, Sefcik, Cliff Yuma, Jacob Peterson and Manns each crossed home plate in the inning.
Omro got the momentum right back, scoring four times in its half of the fifth. The score remained deadlocked at five until the seventh, when Billy Arps delivered a walk-off hit to score Ashtin Busching.
The loss sent Oconto Falls home in the double elimination format. Despite the two tight losses, Oconto Falls was not disappointed in its effort.
“Both of the games were a fight to the end and we never gave up,” Manns said. “We just have some things that didn’t go our way and we ended up on the losing side both times, but that’s baseball.”
“Yes, the losses were hard but overall built character as a team and helped prepare them better for next year,” Virtues said. “We tried our hardest and left it all out on the field.”
Joe Sefcik was honored to serve as the team’s coach this summer and watch the team grow together.
“Baseball can teach you a lot of life lessons,” he said. “They have provided me a lot of great memories for years to come. I will use a lot of the lessons and memories to teach younger kids that you don’t know everything, you’re always going to be learning new things.”
Oconto Falls wrapped up the summer with a 4-7 overall record.
Freedom won the regional with a perfect record, taking down Omro (10-0), Clintonville (14-5) and Bonduel twice (3-2 in 10 innings and 9-5 in the championship game).