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2016 NFHS Baseball and Softball Rule Changes

Rules changes for the 2016 baseball and softball seasons were made at rules committee meetings last month in Indianapolis. Those changes were subsequently approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Board of Directors.

Four State Baseball Champions Crowned

The final day of the 2015 State Spring Baseball Tournament determined champions in four divisions Thursday at Neuroscience Group Field in Grand Chute, Wis.

A two-run single by McCauley Cox in the fifth inning propelled Janesville Craig (29-1) to the Division 1 title with a 2-0 victory over Kimberly (26-5) in the championship final.

The Cougars made the two runs stand up with a combined shut out by starter Nick Cramer and Nick Blomgren in relief. Cramer scattered four hits over five innings of work and is credited with the victory. Blomgren pitched the final two innings to record the save.

JT Smithback collected two of the Cougars’ five hits. Ben Carew went 3-for-3 with a double, and Zach Carney added a pair of hits for the Papermakers.  Cougars’ pitching allowed only one Kimberly base-runner to reach third base, and that came in the fifth inning when the Papermakers stranded runners on second and third.

It is Janesville Craig’s fourth State title. The Cougars won Class A championships in 1983 and 1984, and a Division 1 title in 1998. Kimberly has finished runner-up for the fifth time and for the second straight season.

There were anxious moments in the final inning, but Milwaukee Lutheran (19-13) won the Division 2 championship with a 4-3 win over Notre Dame in the title game.

With one out in the top of the seventh, Notre Dame had a runner reach base with a passed ball following third strike. After a stolen base put the runner in scoring position, James Wright struck out the next batter, walked the following hitter and closed out the inning with a strikeout to preserve the victory.

The Red Knights scored first with a single run in the first inning on a successful squeeze bunt by Sam Ruch to score Nick Winter from third. They added a run in the second inning on an infield single by Christian Gerner.

The Tritons tied the game in the third inning when Connor Yakel singled in a pair of runs with two outs. However, the Red Knights answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to close out the scoring in the game. TD Walker drove in the first run of the inning with a single to shortstop, and Ryan Selner delivered a  base hit to center field to drive in the final run of the game.

Gerner and Winter each had two hits to pace the Red Knights seven-hit attack. The Tritons were held to four hits behind the combination of starter TD Walker and reliever James Wright. Walker struck out seven in five innings to post the win. Wright pitched two innings without surrendering a hit to pick up the save.

It was the third State title for Milwaukee Lutheran, which also won titles in 2002 and 2003.

Lake Country Lutheran (28-2) followed last year’s Division 4 championship with a Division 3 title this season after a dramatic 5-4 walk-off victory over Aquinas (27-4) in the final.

The Lightning scored first with a run in the bottom of the second inning on a run-scoring double by Jack Euclide, but the Blugolds responded with a run in the third to tie the game at 1-1. Alex Dee belted a double to drive in Rudy Rott, who walked earlier in the inning.

Lake Country Lutheran regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning on a fielder’s choice that scored Andrew Buran who had walked with one out.

The real fireworks and drama didn’t begin until the seventh inning. Aquinas scored three runs to grab a 4-2 lead. Alex Schulte singled in a run, another scored on a fielding error and one on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Horstman.

Then Lightning struck. After a ground out to start the bottom of the seventh, Lake Country Lutheran cracked four straight sin


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