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By Amber Hayden
GRAND CHUTE — The 2019 Boyceville baseball team has shown itself to be a resilient and determined group.
It showed those qualities last Wednesday afternoon on Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute during the WIAA Division 3 state baseball semifinal against the Stratford Tigers.
The Bulldogs found themselves trailing 4-0 after just one inning of play but doggedly went to work to pull back to even after they scored three runs in the top of the second and another score in the top third.
The contest would remain knotted until the bottom of the fifth when Stratford plated three more runs to take a 7-4 advantage.
Boyceville once again tried to rally.
They got a run back in the top of the sixth, but, unfortunately, that would be it for the Bulldogs who went down in order in their final at bat in the top of the seventh innings despite a hit allowing Stratford to claim a 7-5 victory in the June 12 semifinal contest played between rain showers.
“Can you be disappointed when you are the second baseball team ever from your school to make it to Appleton,” Boyceville head coach Michael Roemhild questioned. “I think if you were to talk to any of my players right now they would give you ‘the look’ followed by a profound yes.”
Boyceville, who was the visiting team, batted first.
Senior Jaden Reisimer laid down a solid bunt to open the game and reached first on an error when the Tigers’ starting pitcher Lance Heidmann bobbled and dropped the ball when he tried to pick it up. Walker Retz followed with a nice sacrifice bunt that allowed Reisimer to advance to second. Reisimer then took third on Trett Joles’ ground out back to Heidmann on the mound. Unfortunately, Reisimer was left stranded when Trevor Hollister lined out to left field.
The Tigers seized on four hits off of Bulldogs’ starter Connor Sempf and a Boyceville error to take a commanding 4-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning.
After a fly out to center in its first at bat, Stratford got a hit from Candler Schmidt. Sempf then hit Colten Schillinger with a pitch to put two onboard. The Tigers’ first baseman and clean-up hitter Dawson Moen rapped a single to left field that scored Schmidt with the Tigers’ and game’s first. Schillinger and Moen advanced to third and second respectively on a Boyceville fielding error.
Sempf then walked Stratford’s Kade Ehrike to load the bases. Riley Bauman then hit a RBI single to score Schillinger from third. Mav Licciardi then belted the Tigers’ fourth hit of the inning, a single to center field that scored Ehrike and Moen that made it 4-0 in favor of Stratford.
Boyceville finally retired the side when Walker Retz snared a line drive and turned it into an unassisted double play.
“They (Stratford) were hitting Connor pretty good in the first inning,” Roemhild explained. “So I decided to put Walker (Retz) in, Connor was still under the pitch limit for the next day.”
Boyceville, however, bounced back in the second inning when they were able to put three runs on the board.
Connor Sempf kicked off the Boyceville second with some redemption on a single down the left field line, which was followed by a walk from his older brother Brendan Sempf.
Connor scored on an error by Stratford’s catcher off Jacob Granley’s bunt attempt and allowed him to reach first safely and Brendan Sempf to take third.
Ira Bialzik sent a sacrifice to left field that allowed Brendan Sempf to come home with the Bulldogs’ second run. Logan Knudtson then laid down another successful sacrifice bunt to send Granley to third and scored when Reisimer singled down the left field line to make it 4-3.
Retz followed with a single to right but the inning ended when Joles flew out to center.
“Jacob and Ira, for freshmen, I thought played great at state,” coach Roemhild stated. “Both coming up with huge hits that scored runs for us.”
The Bulldogs opted to change up the defense when coach Roemhild moved Walker Retz to the mound, Jaden Reisimer to short stop and Connor Sempf to center field.
It seemed like the defense was working well in their new positions as Retz and the Bulldogs kept Stratford to three scoreless innings.
Boyceville got the equalizer in the very next inning as Trevor Hollister singled to right field to open the third inning. Connor Sempf grounded out to third but it allowed Hollister to move to second base. Brendan Sempf then grounded out to the shortstop but Hollister again advanced 90 feet and ended up on third. Granley then singled to drive home Hollister with the game-tying run. Bialzik struck out swinging to end the inning.
The contest stayed tied at four until the Stratford fifth when the Tigers seemed to get the timing down on Retz’ pitches.
Retz walked Schillinger to start Stratford’s fifth at bat. Moen grounded out to Hollister at first and Schillinger went to second. Ehrike then drew the Tigers’ second walk of the inning off of Retz. Bauman followed with a screaming double down the left field line that pushed Schillinger to home plate with the go ahead run. Licciardi singled to score Ehrike. On the next at bat, Bauman scored on Devyn Palmer’s fielder’s choice to make it 7-4 in the Tigers’ favor.
The sixth inning started with Jacob Granley being hit by a pitch, which saw the Tigers switching pitchers from Lance Heidmann to Chandler Schmidt.
Bialzik struck out. Logan Knudtson then reached on a fielder’s choice, but Granley was put out at second. Jaden Reisimer singled to right which moved Knudtson all the way to third base and he scored to make it a 7-5 ball game when Walker Retz hit a single into left field in the next at bat. With two runners on base, Trett Joles had a chance for a couple of RBIs but grounded out to the Tigers’ shortstop to end the Boyceville threat
“Walker’s bat stayed hot, and Connor and Jaden Reisimer had multiple hits in the game for us as well that kept us alive,” Roemhild said.
In the bottom of the sixth, Boyceville once again switched up their defense as they moved Retz to first base and put Trevor Hollister on the mound.
Hollister surrendered a pair of hits but no runs to Startford as Boyceville headed into its final at bat trailing by two runs.
The Tigers, who had brought in Chander Schmidt to pitch in the sixth, put the Bulldogs’ down in order in the seventh. Holister grounded out to second for the first out. Connor Sempf single to left but was then picked off first base by Schmidt for the Bulldogs’ second out. Brendan Sempf then struck out to end the game as the Tigers took the 7-5 victory.
Both teams finished the game with nine hits and a pair of fielding errors.
Walker Retz led the Bulldogs with three hits in three plate appearances. He also threw a solid game, going four innings for Boyceville, but suffered the loss with three earned runs, three runs on three hits and a trike out.
Jaden Reisimer and Connor Sempf each went 2-for-4 at the plate. Connor Sempf also allowed four earned runs on four hits and a walk in his one inning on the mound.
Trevor Hollister had a hit and allowed two hits in his inning pitching.
“Our baseball program is headed in the right direction, but we know there are no guarantees,” commented Roemhild. “We will miss our seniors and wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.
The rest of the team will have to work harder in the upcoming season if they want to make it back to Appleton, according to Roemhild, with the hope of changing the ending of the story that is only partially written.
Boyceville finished the season 19-4 with a regional and sectional championships.
Stratford went on to win the state championship the following day with six runs in the top of the seventh to defeat Markesan 9-4.
Boyceville….….…..…..0 3 1 0 0 1 0 – 5
Stratford.….….….……4 0 0 0 3 0 X – 7
AB-H-R: Brendan Sempf 3-0-1, Trett Joles 4-0-0, Walker Retz 3-3-0, Trevor Hollister 4-1-1, Connor Sempf 4-2-1, Jaden Reisimer 4-2-0, Jacob Granley 1-1-1, Ira Bialzik 2-0-0, Logan Knudtson 2-0-1. Total 27-9-5.
AB-H-R: Mav Licciardi 2-2-0, Lance Heidmann 3-0-0, Eli Drexler 4-2-0, Chandler Schmidt 4-2-1, Riley Bauman 3-2-1, Colton Schillinger 2-0-2, Kade Ehrike 1-0-2, Devyn Palmer 3-0-0, Dawson Moen 4-1-1. Total 26-9-7.
Pitching: Boyceville — Connor Sempf 1 IP, 4 H, 0 K, 1 BB, 4 R (4 earned), Walker Retz 4 IP, 3 H, 1 K, 4 BB, 3 R (3 earned), Trevor Hollister 1 IP, 2 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 R; Stratford — Lance Heidmann 5 IP, 6 H, 2 K, 1 BB, 5 R (3 earned), Chandler Schmidt 2 IP, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB, 0 R.