PLATO – All Gabe Roepke needed was a fly ball. He did that. It just landed on the other side of the fence.
In the bottom of the ninth, Roepke delivered a two-run walk-off home run as the Plato Bluejays clinched the Crow River Valley League South title with a thrilling 6-4 win over the Brownton Bruins July 18.
It was a tough start for the Bluejays in their matchup with Brownton. After falling behind 2-0 as their offense struggled to get anything going, Plato battled back.
Brownton grabbed the lead in the top of the fourth to snap the scoreless game. A two-run home run from Nathan Schultz gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
The Bruins would add onto their lead in the fifth. Seth Schuette and Matt Schwictenberg opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Grant Baumetz then delivered with an RBI single, extending Brownton’s lead to 3-0.
Needing to get something going, Reece Schwirtz started the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff double. That’s where he was left as Daniel Rosenau worked out of trouble to preserve Brownton’s lead.
After Zack Stockman sent down the Bruins in the top of the sixth, Plato finally broke through against Rosenau. After a walk to Nolan Lepel, Mitchell Boesche delivered with an RBI double to close the gap to 3-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, it was time for Lepel to come up big again for the Bluejays. With the bases loaded and two outs, Lepel delivered with a bases-clearing double to give Plato a 4-3 lead.
Brownton didn’t waste any time rallying to tie the game. In the top of the eighth, Baumetz led off the inning with an infield single. Nate Litzau then followed with a bunt single, giving Brownton runners on first and second with no outs. Another sacrifice bunt set the Bruins up with a chance to tie the game. Ryan Grams delivered with a sacrifice fly and RBI to tie the game at four.
That set the stage for Roepke to be the hero for the Bluejays in the bottom of the ninth. After Reece Schwirtz led off the inning with his second double of the game, Roepke played the hero. His two-run home run gave the Bluejays a 6-4 win and the CRVL South title in the process.
With the division title, Plato will be the No. 2 seed in the Region 7C Tournament.
Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports