West Madison Little League has been a regular in the Senior League Baseball Central Region Tournament.
Now, for the first time in a decade, West Madison is the champion.
The No. 5-seeded Wisconsin representative rallied to beat No. 2 Ohio 8-3 on Wednesday afternoon at Washington Park in Peru to win the Central Region Tournament for the first time since 2009.
It’s the fifth time West Madison has won the region title.
“It’s special,” Wisconsin manager Jerry Schmitt said. “We’ve been coming year after year. We’ve had a pretty good run of getting here and getting close. Ten years ago was the last (West Madison) group that won. For this group to be able to do this is really good and it means a lot to these guys.”
It was particularly meaningful to Steve Callahan and Henry Severson, who were both on last year’s team that reached the region semifinals.
“It means pretty much everything,” Callahan said. “This is my third time going to regionals. I was 0-for-2. We lost last year in the semis and we lost two years ago (in junior league) in the championship game. It’s not settling in at all. I can’t believe we’re actually going to South Carolina.”
Wisconsin advances to the World Series on July 27 to Aug. 3 in Easley, S.C.
“Boy, I have no idea (what to expect),” Schmitt said. “I know what I have in this group. This is a very special group. We have depth in a lot of areas. We’re solid all the way around. These guys are going to be excited. One thing I know for sure is there’s not going to be anybody who has more energy than we do down there.”
Wisconsin earned its trip to South Carolina by overcoming a three-run deficit in the final three innings.
“We had timely hitting, our defense was solid, our pitching was really good,” Schmitt said. “It all comes together. You can’t win with just one thing. That’s how we went through the whole tournament. We had guys off the bench with big hits. A lot of things went into it. I think it was a complete team game.”
Ohio scored a run in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead.
Wisconsin began to chip away with a pair of runs in its half of the fourth inning as Yosef Baldon reached on an error and scored on a wild pitch and Cam Broderick brought in a run on a fielder’s choice.
Aidan Carney, Dario De La Rosa and Baldon each drove in a run in the fifth inning, while in the sixth, Callahan and Severson had RBI doubles and Michael Osterberg hit an RBI single.
“We just kept the energy up,” Schmitt said. “We got good at-bats. It’s not like we were getting bat at-bats (early in the game). We were making solid contact, but the guys focused just a little bit more and decided we’re going to get our pitch to hit. We really worked it and when we got a pitch we could hit, we put it in play and made things happen.”
Tyler Schmitt earned the win on the mound for Wisconsin as he allowed three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Dylan Hamilton took the loss on the mound for Ohio. Caleb Loboschefski ripped an RBI double in the third inning. In the fourth, Hamilton singled and scored, while Dylan Riley hit an RBI single.
“A lot of it was timely hits,” Ohio manager Jim Durliat said about taking the early lead. “We had some good base running. We just couldn’t string hits together the way we wanted. We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed it to break it open. I have to give Wisconsin credit. They kept battling. They just kept coming at us and picking away.
“We played hard. Balls got through that probably shouldn’t. Balls bounce. That’s baseball, but the kids battled. They’re a tough, resilient bunch of kids. If you would have asked me Friday if we would have been here, I probably would have said no. We had some bad injuries. We didn’t have all our guns, but it is what it is and the boys came out and gave it everything they had.”
Ohio advanced to the championship game with a 5-1 victory over No. 3 Missouri earlier Wednesday.
“We absolutely enjoyed being here,” Durilat said. “What a fantastic place. What a fantastic bunch of people and a fantastic tournament. I would absolutely love to do it again.”
Wisconsin upset set No. 1 Iowa 7-1 in the semifinals.
“We knew we had a hard path to the final,” Callahan said. “We knew we had to play every single inning with insane focus, and that’s what we did. I’m so proud of the whole team. Everybody on the team helped. It was a complete effort. The energy was way up the whole time. It was a dream come true.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.