The final game we're previewing at the 2019 WIAA state tournament pits two regular-season foes against one another. Mineral Point and Belmont will play for the second time this season, with this matchup promising a state title game berth to the winner.
Belmont is making its first ever trip to the state tournament. The Braves are 17-8 this season and took second place in the Six Rivers West Conference. To reach Appleton for the first time, they beat Iowa-Grant, Highland, De Soto and Bangor.
Mineral Point is at state for the second year in a row. The Pointers lost in the Division 3 semifinals last year. They’re unbeaten at 28-0 this year and won the Southwest Wisconsin Activities Conference. To return to Appleton, they defeated Southwestern, Pecatonica, Deerfield and Living Word Lutheran.
This won’t be the first time these teams meet this year. Mineral Point beat Belmont 4-0 earlier in the spring.
Here’s a breakdown of the matchup based on the following categories: hitting, pitching, and base running. The teams are rated on a 100 point scale, with 100 being the best. There are a possible 45 points in both the hitting and pitching categories, and 10 in the base running category.
Note: Stats listed for Belmont are through the sectional semifinals, while those listed for Mineral Point are through the regional finals.
Belmont: 38 out of 45 points
Mineral Point: 45 out of 45 points
Mineral Point crushes the ball at the plate, and has the advantage in this category. Isaac Lindsey led the squad with a .533 average entering sectionals. Liam Stumpf was one of the state’s best sluggers this year. He had a .461 average, nine doubles, two triples and an eye-popping 11 homers entering sectionals. He was the team’s RBI leader with 41. Grady Gorgen (.465, 20 RBIs) and Justin Baehler (.405, 32 RBIs) both hit over .400. Overall, the team has seven players hitting over .300.
Belmont has its share of strong hitters too. Colin Austin hits .446 with 10 extra-base hits – including four homers – and 17 RBIs. Riley Christensen hits .420 with 12 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs. Others to hit over .300 include Brady Wedig (.379, 23 RBIs), Shane Freiburger (.323) and Ethan James (.301, 16 RBIs). The Braves hit .303 as a team.
Belmont: 35 out of 45 points
Mineral Point: 43 out of 45 points
Mineral Point again gets the edge, this time in the pitching category. Either Gorgen, Stumpf or Curtis Cox figures to get the start in the semifinals. Gorgen is 8-0 with a 1.05 ERA, Stumpf is 5-0 and has posted a 1.29 ERA, and Cox is 8-0 with a 0.54 ERA.
James and Austin have been Belmont’s best pitchers this year. Austin is 5-1 with a 2.77 ERA, while James is 4-3 with a 1.35 ERA. Christensen (2-2, 4.78 ERA) and Luke Kamps (3-3, 4.10 ERA) round out the staff for the Braves. The team’s pitching has been good lately, holding opponents to three total runs across two sectional games.
Belmont: 7 out of 10 points
Mineral Point: 10 out of 10 points
The Pointers have the most stolen bases of any team at state with 110. Gorgen led the way with 32, while Stumpf (15), Uriah Ottoway (14), Grant Bossert (12) and Lindsey (11) also did a lot of damage.
Three players did most of Belmont’s work on the base paths. Austin had 13 of the team’s 55 steals, while James added 10 and Justan Ernst added nine.
Belmont: 80 out of 100 points
Mineral Point: 98 out of 100 points
Nobody’s been able to beat Mineral Point this year – including Belmont earlier in the year – meaning they’re the favorites in this one. The Pointers’ combination of explosive hitting and stifling pitching has been unstoppable this spring, and it will take a special effort from Belmont to deny them a spot in the state championship.