If beating a team three times in one season is hard, imagine how tough it is to beat a team four times.
Cane Bay entered Wednesday’s District 7 championship needing to beat rival Berkeley once in two tries to advance to the Class AAA Lower State final four. Cane Bay beat Berkeley in the three previous meetings this season, all by one run.
After winning Game 1, 7-0, the Stags handed Cane Bay ace Zach Wimmer his first loss, winning 2-1, to clinch the school’s first district title.
It was the second straight year that Cane Bay was beaten at home twice for the district title.
“You know, I have always believed that life evens out, and we just had to come here and believe that we had a chance to do this,” said Berkeley coach Landy Cox. “I honestly felt that when we won that first game, we were going to find a way to win the second game. I have so much respect for Cane Bay and their program, and their kids played so hard, but I’m very proud of our kids. We have a bunch of fighters on this team.”
Cane Bay took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Cody Blewer’s RBI single, but Berkeley answered in the third on a run-scoring single by Kyle Garrick.
Berkeley scored the winning run without a hit in the sixth. After Garrick was hit by a pitch, pinch runner Craig Laney went to second on a wild pitch. Garrett Gallagher popped up a bunt for the first out. Laney swiped third and Josh Simmons’ attempted squeeze bunt was popped up to first. The throw back to third to double off the runner sailed high, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Berkeley sophomore Sterling Fiddie entered the game with one out in the second and retired the first 10 batters he faced, six by strikeout. Fiddie allowed only one hit, a sixth-inning infield single by Wilder, and struck out 10.
Cane Bay had one final threat in the seventh as Fiddie walked three straight batters with two outs. However, he fanned Brandon Hall to end the game.
“I figured he got us this far, I was going to let him win or lose it right there at the end,” said Cox of his 6-4, 260-pound right-hander.
Wimmer (8-1) allowed only the hit to Garrick while striking out 14 in the complete-game effort.
Berkeley opened Game 1 up quickly, taking a 2-0 lead after two innings and erupting for five runs in the third for a commanding 7-0 advantage. Cane Bay threatened with two runners on base in the first and third innings but Berkeley starter Matthew Kizer escaped both jams.
Kizer improved to 5-4 with a complete game six-hitter.