By Shereen Siewert
The Wausau Nationals Little League All-Stars Major team is one step closer to the World Series, after winning the state championship for the second year in a row.
The team of 11- and 12-year-old ballplayers took Friday’s game in dramatic fashion with a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Appleton Nationals. They will now advance to the Great Lakes Regional tournament in Westfield, Ind. beginning next weekend with opening ceremonies on Sat., Aug. 4.
In Friday’s game, played in Eau Claire, Appleton opened up scoring in the first inning when an error allowed for two runs scored.
The game was tied at four with Wausau batting in the bottom of the sixth when Wausau’s Aiden Dykstra drew a walk, scoring one run.
Lucas Hager led things off on the mound for Wausau. He went six innings, allowing four runs on nine hits, striking out five and walking zero. Keagen Jirschele led Wausau with two hits in two at bats.
The win marks a huge comeback for Wausau, which had a slow start in the early going of the tournament. The team lost their first two games against Burlington and West Bend.
After Wausau suffered its second loss, the coaches made a bet with the players. If the boys were to win the next game, the coaches would do a “Fortnite” dance. The bet worked. Not only were players and families entertained by some post-game moves after each successive victory, the team moved forward to advance to the semifinals as the number four seed out of four teams.
In semifinal play, Wausau beat the number one seed, Burlington, by a score of 3-1, setting the stage for the matchup against Appleton.
The team winning the regional tournament next week in Indiana will earn a spot in the Little League World Series, which will be held Aug. 16-26 in Williamsport, Penn.
The team will be honored Sunday, July 29 at at Doepke Park in Rib Mountain, where Wausau will be hosting the State Little League Tournament for Minor League players age 9 and 10. The Major champions will be announced prior to the Minor’s Home Run Derby competition, sometime between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m..
1 True Thurs
3 Caden Werth
4 Davis Winter
6 Marcus MacDonald
7 Taylor Lemamski
9 JJ Drews
10 Turner Olson
11 Keagen Jirschele
12 Aiden Dykstra
16 Aidan Vachowiak
17 Lucas Hager
18 Tyler Ackermann
19 Travis Klade
22 RJ Stroming
Coaches: Jeremy Jirschele, Joe Ackermann
Manager: Chad Lemanski
Photo courtesy of Sarah Werth
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