After losing to the La Crosse North Stars in extra innings Friday night, it appeared the Onalaska Legion baseball team's Regional title defense would not happen.
But then Larry Swiggum's club caught fire, winning its last four games while facing elimination to advance to the American Legion Class AA state tournament for the ninth time in team history.
Onalaska needed to beat Sparta twice Sunday in order to win the Regional. In the first game, Onalaska scored four runs in the sixth inning to break a scoreless tie, ultimately winning 6-1 to force a winner-take-all championship game at Senz Field in Tomah.
In game two, Zach Marx had the go-ahead hit in the fourth to give Onalaska a 2-1 lead. Addison Freybler followed with a suicide squeeze to make it 3-1, and Onalaska closed out previously-unbeaten Sparta 6-1 to advance to the state tournament in Kaukauna, Wisconsin next week.
"It's great. It's been great the whole year," Ben Markworth said afterward. "It was fun last year (at state), we fell a little short. This year we want to go a little further and the goal is to bring home the gold."
"Coming into the year we have a lot of younger guys, and just to get them to know what that feeling is like is indescribable," Jack Smalley said. "It's just a great, great win for us and the program altogether."
LA CRESCENT HEADS BACK TO STATE
La Crescent beat Lewiston-Altura 11-1 in five innings Sunday to advance to the Division II American Legion baseball tournament. It is the 10th state appearance in the last 12 years.