An up and down season for the Leigh/Schuyler Crawdads baseball team hit its high point on Aug. 4 when the team won the Dodge County Tournament championship for the first time in a decade.
The Dodge County Tournament followed the Dodge County League playoffs, where the Crawdads qualified as one of the top four teams, but lost in the first round to Wahoo 10-0, capping undefeated league play for Wahoo.
Despite that early exit, and a losing season, manager Keith Manak was confident the Crawdads had more in them than the previous couple of months had shown.
In the first game of the tournament, Blake Bubak threw a complete game from the mound in a 5-3 victory over Dodge.
The momentum carried on into the second game when the Crawdads defeated Scribner 7-3 behind a complete game from Dylan Benne.
"That is so helpful," Manak said. "That’s a manager’s dream - a complete game. We played great defense in the two games and we had timely hitting, which we didn’t have this year. We didn’t have a lot of timely hitting."
The championship game proved to be a nail biter, taking extra innings for Schuyler to defeat West Point 13-12.
"It was kind of ugly, we had a lot of errors," Manak said. "If we wouldn’t have had the errors we probably would have beat them 10-2. We hit the ball very well that game and we pitched very well. Our defense was not very good. We might have had about 10 or 12 errors in that game and that’s being generous to us."
In the top of the 10th, Bubak singled before stealing second. Then, somewhat ironically, after being the ones with the defensive mishaps, it was the Crawdads taking advantage of an error by West Point when Bubak scored the eventual game-winning run.
Tucker Ramaekers, who pitched the last five innings, sat down West Point in order to win the game.
"It was fantastic," Manak said. "I haven’t won one of these county tournaments for 10 years. 2009 was the last time we won one, and we won both of them that year. We’ve been runner-up a few times in the last 10 years, and we just all put it together in this one. Everybody was there, I could play all my guys in the position they were supposed to be playing in."
This past weekend, Leigh/Schuyler competed in its final tournament of the season, traveling to West Point for the Cuming County Tournament.
The Crawdads started with a 13-0 win over Arlington before being shut out 5-0 by West Point.
Crawdads outfielder Josh Spenner will still have one more game, as he will compete in the Dodge County League All-Star game on Saturday. He led the entire league in votes received.
After all was said and done, Manak said he'll remember the never say die attitude of his squad.
"I’m going to remember that we never gave up," Manak said. "We had some games that we were a little out-manned, but we never gave up. We battled every single game, and when you can end a season winning one of those county tournaments and getting to a semifinal in the other, you can hang your hat on a decent year.
"If you would have told me before these tournaments started that we were going to play five games in the county fairs out of six possible, I would have said that’s probably not going to happen. They were fun. They always are. They’re a great bunch of young men."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at email@example.com