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WIAA D2 baseball: Sigler fans 13 to get to regional final

Ellsworth senior Jake Sigler throws a curveball against Osceola Tuesday, May 30 in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal game. Sigler struck out 13 batters and only gave up two hits. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Pat Harrington and Drake Flom team up to turn a double play for Ellsworth against Osceola to end the top of the sixth inning. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

ELLSWORTH -- Jake Sigler had one blemish on the mound -- a home run in the fourth inning.

Other than that, the senior dominated and pitched Ellsworth to a 4-1 victory over Osceola in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinals Tuesday, May 30 at Bob Young Field in Summit Park. The Panthers will host Prescott Wendesday, May 31 at 5 p.m. Ellsworth won both meetings between the two teams in the regular season.

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The lefty relied heavily on his curveball to keep the Chieftains from mounting any real threats.

“He wasn’t just throwing strikes,” Ellsworth coach Ryan Christenson said, “he was throwing really quality strikes. Even if they put a good swing, they foul it off instead of hitting it hard in play.”

Sigler struck out 13 batters and only gave up two hits. Part of Sigler’s success with the curveball was trust in his catcher, Ryan McGregor, to keep the ball in front of him if it was in the dirt.

“He’s by far the best catcher in our conference and probably among the best in the state,” Sigler said. “We honestly threw mostly curveball because it was working. My fastball was humming, but that kid hit the home run on the fastball, so from that point on we just went with the curveball.”

The Panthers were led on offense by Sigler as well. The senior went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an intentional walk in the first inning.

Junior Owen Matzek was behind Sigler in the batting order and he singled in the first inning to score Shane Elsen and take a 1-0 lead.

Matzek hurt the Chieftains in the third inning with an RBI double to make the score 3-0.

Osceola wouldn’t let the third baseman hurt them any more in the fifth inning though. When Matzek came up with runners on second and third base with two outs, the Chieftains elected to intentionally walk him.

“That says a lot about a kid when a team intentionally walks the guy in front of you and then they turn around and intentionally walk you later in the game,” Christenson said. “That’s the game coming full circle there and having a good day at the plate.”  

Ellsworth had an 11-2 advantage in the hit column and Osceola had three errors, but the Panthers couldn’t pull away.

Ellsworth nearly scored with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but Elsen was thrown out at the plate by the Osceola left fielder.

The Panthers ended the bottom of the fifth when Cole Woodland, who hit an RBI double earlier in the inning, was called out for leaving third base early on a flyout to left field.

The limited room for error was something that didn’t seem to faze Sigler on the mound.

“It was important to keep focused,” Sigler said. “Halfway through the game we were dominating, but we were only winning 3-1. A couple errors, maybe a walk here or there and then you’re folding and you’re down.

“We just weren’t scoring runs like we felt like we should have been.”