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WBA: Monson shutout sends Prescott to state

Prescott catcher Brandon Voelker leaps in an attempt to make a catch in the seventh inning of a 4-0 victory over Whitehall in a WBA sectional final. Voelker would bobble and eventually catch the ball by pinning it against his chest protector. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 9
Evan Bayer celebrates after Brandon Voelker secured the third out in the seventh inning. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 9
Prescott center fielder Michael Lytle singles into right field following a Mike Brookshaw double earlier in the inning against Interwald. Both would come around to score in the sixth inning and the Pirates would win, 5-1. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 9
Erik Monson struck out eight batters and only surrendered three hits as Prescott earned a 4-0 victory over Whitehall in a WBA sectional final game at Rib Lake Sunday, Aug. 13. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 9
Michael Brookshaw drives in Peter Brookshaw to score the game's first run in the bottom of the sixth inning against Whitehall Sunday, August 13 at Rib Lake. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 9
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RIB LAKE—The Prescott Pirates were excited, but there was no pandemonium.

There was no big team picture.

Instead, catcher Brandon Voelker told the team that their next game would be against Osseo in the WBA quarterfinals Saturday, Aug. 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Viroqua.

The Pirates had just defeated Whitehall, 4-0, to advance out of the Rib Lake sectional of the WBA playoffs. The day before, they earned a 5-1 victory over Interwald.

Prescott didn't have its best hitting performances of the year, but it got the job done.

"We're pretty excited right now," player-manager Michael Lytle said. "Today was a good test for us."

The test Lytle was referring to was Whitehall pitcher Alex Byum, whose fastball velocity was sitting in the mid-80s. Byum also located both a slider and a curveball at times, which gave Prescott fits throughout the game.

As good as Byum was at times, Prescott lefty Eric Monson was better.

Monson was only ever in trouble once; right after Michael Brookshaw drove in Peter Brookshaw to give Prescott a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Monson gave up a leadoff double and then gave up a Texas leaguer into right field to put runners on the corners with one out.

He took a deep breath and went to his best pitch: the changeup.

"It was working today," Monson said. "My changeup is usually my most consistent pitch, so I can kind of lean on that.

"I had kind of been getting beat (in that inning) by my fastball, so we decided to kind of start pitching backwards. Starting them with soft stuff and then finishing with some harder stuff."

It worked.

Monson struck out the five-hitter, retired the next batter on a tapper back to the mound and catcher Brandon Voelker made a catch pinning the ball between his glove and chest protector as he fell into the chain-link fence to end the inning.

Crisis averted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Prescott added an insurance run when they ran a play with runners on first and third base to cause misdirection. One Prescott fan on the hill behind the dugout called it "a high school play."

That's exactly what it was, but before it was executed, Voelker called time as soon as he realized the Pirates had a first-and-third situation and ran to the first-base coach's box.

Voelker said it was a play that Prescott had run before. Luke Murphy took off from first base when the catcher caught the ball, a delayed steal. Whitehall threw to the second baseman who was well in front of the baseline ready for Evan Bayer, the runner on third base, to take off for home. Bayer didn't go right away.

Instead of taking second base, which was available to Murphy, he lingered in no-man's land until the Wolves decided to partake in the rundown.

That's where Voelker coaching first base came into play.

"He knew what to do with the delayed steal," Voelker said. "But he asked me if he should stay in the rundown—obviously if they're going to completely give you second base, you take it."

The second baseman chased Murphy back toward first base before flipping to a left-handed throwing first baseman. The first baseman looked at Bayer and when he looked away Bayer took off for home. The first baseman stumbled and made an errant, late throw to the plate.

"We just found ways to score runs," Lytle said. "He was a very good pitcher, but we just kept having good at bats and enough of our guys started to adjust."

Prescott took a 2-0 lead, which must have felt like a 5-0 lead the way Monson's changeup was disappearing.

"It's probably dropping 2 or 3 inches as its crossing the plate," Lytle said. "Mons is a very dangerous pitcher and we're lucky to have him."

Other area results

Plum City eliminated

The Blues won the sectional semifinal, 4-3, over Chaseburg Coon Valley Saturday, Aug. 12.

Plum City built a 6-1 lead and a 7-3 lead in the sectional final, but were eventually handed an 8-7 loss by Spooner Sunday, Aug. 13.

Georgakas, Menomonie on to state

The Eagles drafted Ellsworth lefty James Georgakas for their playoff run.

Georgakas pitched three innings in the sectional final, and Menomonie defeated Chequamegon, 18-1.

Menomonie won the semifinal over the Eau Claire Bears, 12-3.

The Eagles play in the WBA opener Friday, Aug.18 at 6:30 p.m.

Walczak, River Falls eliminated

Spring Valley lefty Brandon Walczak was added to the Fighting Fish roster for their playoff run.

Walczak was thrown into a bases loaded situation in the ninth inning against Sparta with River Falls leading, 8-3.

He induced a pop out, gave up a single, a walk and then was pulled with the score still 8-5.

The next pitcher entered and surrendered a first-pitch, walk-off grand slam to give Sparta an 9-8 victory.