TILDEN — It was a base hit Randy Baier has been waiting 25 years for.
Baier’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th propelled the Tilden Tigers to the 2011 Chippewa River Baseball League championship with a 4-3 victory over Whitehall.
Baier has been playing for Tilden since he was 16 years old, but said this was his first championship-winning hit as a Tiger.
“I was looking for something outer-half that I could throw into right field but he got one middle-in and I just tried to hit it hard,” Baier said.
Alex Hiess started the bottom of the 10th with a leadoff double to put Tilden in scoring position right away. Andy Davis reached base on a fielders choice and Hiess advanced to third by outrunning Whitehall after getting caught in a pickle.
Whitehall intentionally walked designated hitter Luke McDonell to load the bases for Baier and he came through with a hard hit ball that was just out of the reach of the Whitehall infielders.
The hit ended a comeback bid by Whitehall that started in the ninth inning. With Tilden up 3-1, the Tigers turned the ball over to Andrew Ruf to get the final three outs.
But Whitehall was able to work a leadoff walk before Tyler Manley blasted a two-run home run over the left-center field wall to tie the score at three.
After the home run, Ruf settled down and retired six of the next seven batters he faced and picked up the win.
Todd Bresina started for Tilden, going eight innings and allowing one run to go with five walks and six strikeouts. For his effort, Bresina was named the Most Valuable Player of the championship game.
“It didn’t go quite the way we scripted it, but a win is a win and you can’t complain about that,” Bresina said.
Whitehall struck first on the scoreboard in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat.
Tilden came back with one run in the bottom of the third to tie the game. With one out, Jake Bohl drew a walk, followed by a single from Jake McIlquham and a walk from Hiess to load the bases.
Davis flew out for the second out before McDonell’s RBI single tied the game.
Tilden took the lead in the fourth on an RBI by Bohl, scoring Mitch Steinmetz and tallied another run in the sixth on another RBI single from Bohl.
“We hit a lot of at ‘em balls today,” Baier said. “We hit them hard and they (Whitehall) did a good job of fielding them all.”
Hiess went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Luke Short also doubled for the Tigers.
The championship is Tilden’s 17th CRBL title overall.
Tilden and Whitehall, in addition to Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Osseo and Beef River, now turn their attention to the Wisconsin Baseball Association state tournament, which starts next weekend. The six CRBL representatives will be playing in Osseo starting Friday night.
“It’s always a good builder to win this championship going into the WBAs,” Bresina said.