NEW HOLSTEIN (WLUK) -- Kiel entered Monday's summer baseball sectionals having not captured a sectional title since 1969, so it had been a while since the Raiders made the state tournament.
If they were to end the drought the Raiders would have to beat Plymouth and potentially New Holstein -- two teams that swept Kiel during the regular season.
It didn't seem likely, but Kiel saved its best for last. After defeating Plymouth, 3-1, in a sectional semifinal Monday afternoon, the Raiders came right back and handled New Holstein on its home field, 8-2, to make the state summer baseball tournament.
Add the fact Kiel beat Howards Grove -- a team which swept Kiel during the regular season -- to start the postseason and this postseason run has been nothing short of surprising. At least to those outside of Kiel.
"Nothing compares to this in baseball," senior Trent Nickel said. "We battled back. We played these guys last year in a sectional final, got whooped. We gained revenge this time."
No. 3-seeded Kiel (19-8), which scored a combined three runs against No. 1 New Holstein (26-5) during two regular season games, jumped on New Holstein in the second inning for three runs and never looked back. Twice the Huskies loaded the bases and didn't score and that proved costly.
Kiel has won 12 of its last 13 games since a 12-0 loss to Plymouth on June 20, so the Raiders are playing their best baseball at the right time.
Kiel will play Marquette in a Friday state semifinal at Kapco Park at Concordia University in Mequon. The winner advances to the state title game later in the day against the winner of West Bend West-Franklin.
"Just means a lot to us," senior Jon Meyer said. "Just the seniors being our last sport in high school, to go to state means a lot. Forty-eight years is a long time and we did it, finally."
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