By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – D.J. Gotz knows the feeling of being on the pitcher’s mound in a close loss in the District finals. After Friday’s sparkling performance at Whiteford, Gotz now also knows what it’s like to win one of those games.
“It was important,” Gotz said of the Division 4 District championship. “I knew it was important and I had to go out there and do it. I knew I had to do anything I could do in order to get that win.”
The Patriots beat Whiteford 3-1 in the championship game to claim BD’s first District title since 2008. Last year, Whiteford got past BD, 1-0, in the District finals.
“I know how disappointed our kids were last year,” BD coach D.J. Lutz said. “I am so happy for them to come out here today and win and beat them. It’s a really good feeling.”
Britton-Deerfield couldn’t get that one big hit to help them win the game but, as it turned out, they didn’t need it. BD used a combination of Bobcat errors and a couple of sacrifice hits in the late innings to win the title.
“That’s just good baseball,” Lutz said after the win. “I’ll take that.”
BD put a lot of pressure on the Bobcats early but came up empty. In the first inning, Cody Meinert was thrown out at the plate with the bases loaded.
BD scored in the top of the third inning when Noah Snyder led off with a single and scored on a bases-loaded error. Whiteford (17-14) tied the game in the bottom of the third with an unearned run.
In the fifth, BD again loaded the bases but didn’t score. They scratched out runs in the sixth and seventh innings, however, to take the lead. Kolyn Sydam was safe on an error to lead off the inning and got to second base. He moved to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a sacrifice hit.
Matt Mueller scored in the seventh after his single led off the inning. Trent Swindeman brought him home on a flyout to centerfield.
Meanwhile, Gotz was shutting down the Bobcats, who managed two singles by leadoff batter Colin Lake, one by Joe Link and one by Josh Beck. Gotz retired the last seven Bobcat hitters.
“D.J. just shut the door on them,” Lutz said. “He went the whole way and pitched really well. The difference today was he was getting ahead of the hitters all game long. He’s really tough to hit when his curve ball is working. He keeps hitters off-balance.”
Gotz, a senior, said he’s happy to keep the season alive. BD will play in the Division 4 Regional next weekend.
“I get to play with these guys a couple more times,” he said. “It’s a good feeling, especially after what happened last year. This is cool.”
BD (14-9) got to the finals with a 12-8 win over Summerfield in the first game.
A host of BD hitters had big days at the plate. Everytime the Bulldogs (4-17) would score a couple runs to close the gap, BD would put together a rally.
“I think our kids got a little lax after we took the 7-0 lead,” Lutz said. “But we held our own. We hit the ball. I’ll take a 12-8 win any day of the week.”
Lutz said the Patriots have come a long way since the start of the season.
“I’m really proud of our seniors and everybody,” he said. “Our season really didn’t start out that well. We were 0-5 or 0-6 or something like that. We started getting better and have been playing really well, except for the Clinton doubleheader, the last few weeks. I’m so glad I got to coach these guys.”