Strong pitching earns Aquinas state baseball berth - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Strong pitching earns Aquinas state baseball berth

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Osseo, WI (WXOW) - Behind two of the better arms in the state, the Aquinas Blugolds are once again headed back to state.Alex Schulte worked six shutout innings in the sectional semifinals in a 8-0 win over Neillsville Tuesday morning, then Rudy Rott threw seven scoreless innings against Wisconsin Heights in a 9-0 win in the division 3 sectional championship game to send the Blugolds to state for the first time since 2010.

The Blugolds jumped out to early leads in both games thanks to errors by the opposition. Neillsville committed two errors in the second inning, one which allowed three runs to score, and finished the game with five errors. Wisconsin Heights committed three errors in the first inning of the championship game before an out was recorded, helping Aquinas take a 4-0 lead.

Aquinas threw the ball around as well, but was saved by their pitching. Rott retired 16 batters in a row at one point in the championship game, including a stretch where he retired seven batters on 10 pitches.

"I felt pretty good. I lost my release point a couple of times, but I just tried to battle for my teammates and give them the best outing I possibly could," Rott said. "Just trying to throw strikes and work ahead and let my defense work."

Aquinas will face Marathon on Wednesday, June 17 in the state semifinals at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, Wisconsin. The Blugolds were the top-ranked team for most of the season in division 3, and were the top seed in their regional for the second year in a row. But after losing to Westby in the regional finals in 2014, the Blugolds, and especially the upperclassmen, knew they had to play well in each game in the tournament if they wanted to break through with a state berth for head coach Scott Bagniefski.

"It means everything because all the work he puts in for us to make us better," Schulte said. "It just feels so good to go to state and get this whole team to state because we've worked so hard for this."

"We couldn't have asked for anything more," Rott said. "It's been our goal since we came in as freshmen and it's pretty awesome."

Bagniefski was all smiles after the game, but when asked what it meant to return to the state tournament, he was quickly became overwhelmed with emotion.

"It's an amazing feeling," he said, having to pause for about a minute to regain his composure.  "It's been four years since we've gone. They've paid their dues, it's a helluva group of seniors from open gyms to all the summer ball they've played to just all the time and commitment they've put in. They deserve it."

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