“Win the day.” That was the message written on the whiteboard in Waterloo’s dugout Saturday as they faced Mascoutah in hopes of the Bulldogs’ third straight regional baseball title.
“We were going for number three and I thought we had a good shot at it today,” WHS baseball coach Mark Vogel said after the game. “It was a fairly well-played game, a close game. When you get in situations like this, one play will make a difference and there were a couple things we didn’t execute that led to a couple runs for them and that was the difference.”
After four scoreless innings, a couple of Bulldogs errors turned the table in Mascoutah’s favor.
Junior Bulldog righty Jeremy Rettig hit his first batter on the first pitch of the fifth inning to start off for WHS. A few Indians batters later, Rettig allowed a double to left field, putting Mascoutah on the board, 1-0. But after an error at third base and runners on first and third, Rettig came up with a good play to first base to end the inning, noticeably pumped up by the out and his team.
“Jeremy competes, he’s got good stuff and he’s been competitive for us all year,” Vogel said of his starter. “I think he’ll continue to work in the offseason and he will be better next year.”
But Waterloo would not return the favor in the bottom half with a one-two-three inning. That was followed by an impressive catch against the fence by senior Logan Mueth to end the top of the sixth, down by one run, 1-0.
Waterloo got themselves on the board in the sixth, tying it up and giving MHS a contest in the title game.
On two outs, sophomore Ryan Aycock hopped one over the third baseman’s head, putting the score at 1-1 going into the final, nail biting inning.
“Ryan’s fit right in. He is a natural athlete,” Vogel said of Aycock, who had been delivering at the plate. “He plays three sports so he gets a lot of experience in competitive situations. It’s not too big for him.
“He showed that today and he’s shown that since he’s come up and I look for him to get better this offseason and to be a big part of our offense next season.”
After Mascoutah led off the final inning with a double blasted down the left field line, WHS reliever Devin Rice got the signal to warm-up. But WHS couldn’t bring him in soon enough, as Rettig balked and scored a Mascoutah runner from third and took the lead, 2-1.
“I think the balk had an impact, the ball to left field had an impact,” Vogel said of the turning point in the game. “But again we didn’t come up with that big hit enough. We had situations really about four times and we were only able to get one hit out of that situation.
“When you are only able to score one run, it makes it difficult to win a ball game against that pitching staff.”
With one more out to go for the Bulldogs’ defense in the title game, Vogel brought in sophomore closer Rice, moving Rettig to right field. On a full count, Mascoutah hits a blast to into left center and put the title game away, 3-1. Waterloo was not able to come up with any runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We beat a lot of good teams,” Vogel said of his team’s 24-win season. “Weren’t quite good enough to win a regional, weren’t quite good enough to win our conference so we go back to work this summer and look to change that for next year.”
Waterloo ends their season at 22-11.