Domen Delivers Decisively in Cardinal Win
May 16, 2024 by Rich Kelly

The Berkshire Badgers and Cardinal Huskies don't need perfect weather to compete in sports.

Game photos click here.

The Berkshire Badgers and Cardinal Huskies don’t need perfect weather to compete in sports.

The next-door neighbors get it on anytime they get a chance. Give them nice weather, and you can expect the atmosphere to be electric.

In a baseball game May 7, the evenly matched squads played their rivalry to the hilt from the first pitch. There were few mistakes the entire way, but when things came down to the nitty gritty, both teams wanted their top players to be involved in the outcome.

On this day, it was Cardinal senior Troy Domen who was the hero, with a seventh-inning single driving home the game-winning run in a hard fought 2-1 Cardinal victory.

Domen has had a senior year for the ages with the Huskies in every sport he has played. As the end of his high school career approaches, memories abound, but this one will stand near the top.

“I just appreciate so much how great if felt to get the winning hit today,” he said. “I’ve been blessed so much in high school, though, it’s tough to pick out one special moment for me. As I look back, I think maybe beating Berkshire in their gym in my sophomore year, when Ty O’Brien hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, might be my biggest moment, but today sure did feel good as well.”

Both teams scored in the third inning , taking advantage of miscues from their opponents. For the Badgers, Sam Barcikoski took a pitch in the foot to get on base. A wild pitch sent him to second, and with one out, a liner to center (that the left-fielder made a fine catch on) allowed him to reach third.

The second and final miscue of the day from Huskies pitcher Jackson Puruczky, a balk, sent Barcikoski home with the only run of the day for Berkshire (12-7).

In the Cardinal (10-11) third, with one out, Blake Strever sent a screaming line drive down the right field line for a double. Another strikeout later, it looked like pitcher Patrick Brancel might escape further problems. A high chopper up the middle looked to be close, but an errant throw let Chuck Soltis to reach safely, and Strever raced home from third as the throw was chased down the right field line.

Both teams had minor threats from then on, until the Huskies loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh to win the game. An infield chopper down the third base line and errant throw to first put a runner on second.

After a strikeout, Reese Soltis took a pitch in the shoulder, and Chuck Soltis sent a liner into left for another single, but the ball was hit so sharply, the runner from third had to play it safe.

A timeout called by Berkshire Head Coach Nick Burzanko led to a conference on the mound to set up the defense with one out and the bags juiced, but Domen spoiled the day, as would be expected from the opponents’ top player.

“We’ve been kind of sluggish lately,” Coach Burzanko said. “I’m not really sure what to say about this one.

“We could have clinched a share of the CVC Valley today with a win, and we didn’t get it done. Couple errors hurt, we didn’t get the big hits like usual, and we came up short.”

Berkshire did hit the ball well. Puruczky allowed only five hits, including three to Jack Hastings, but a key factor was that he only went to three balls on a single hitter and fanned three as well.

The Huskies made no errors, and that always helps.

Chuck Soltis and Domen each had a pair of hits for the Huskies as they rapped out nine safeties total.

They found holes when they hit the ball, too, as Brancel was tough with his breaking pitches in fanning 12, also allowing just a single hitter to reach a three ball count.

Cardinal Head Coach Dan Wolf knew his team needed to be “all in” to win the game, and that’s how it played out.

“Jackson (Puruczky) has been rock solid for us all season pitching, as has Troy, so we think we have as good a 1-2 punch on the mound to compete with anybody,” Coach Wolf said. “It is just a matter of playing good defense, getting timely hits at timely opportunities, and the kids have really worked hard all season to get things done.

“This is always a big game, so you have to be ready, and we never backed down when we made mistakes. Today there weren’t too many, too, which is always a good thing.”

As tourney time approaches, both teams have solid cores that could lead to long runs. Special and routine plays will make the difference, and both squads can say a lot about the quality they bring to the diamond each time out.