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by Marlys Kruger
The Boyceville baseball team started their season off with a bang, taking a pair of wins against Dunn-St. Croix Conference opponents.
They started the week and 2021 season by shutting out Durand 12-0 last Tuesday, April 28 on their home field, then followed up with a 21-4 road shellacking over rival Glenwood City two days later. The Bulldogs then went to 3-0 with a 9-0 non-conference win at Baldwin-Woodville in a Saturday afternoon contest.
The Bulldogs look to stay on a roll with three more conference games over the next week. They hosted Elmwood/Plum City Monday, travel to Colfax this Thursday and return home for a key D-SC showdown against Spring Valley next Monday, May 10. They will take a break from league play to host Grantsburg on Tuesday, May 11.
With some scattered rain falling around the area, the Bulldogs were hoping they wouldn’t have to wait any longer to get back on the field. With last year’s season cancelled due to COVID-19, mother nature cooperated enough to allow the season to finally begin.
After a scoreless first inning, the Bulldogs broke through for a run in the second on an RBI by Chase Hollister, then came up with four runs in the third when Walker Retz slammed a three-run homerun. Trevor Hollister then drew his second straight walk, stole a base, and scored on a strikeout for a 5-0 lead.
“We started off slow offensively, which is what I thought would happen,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “With this being our first time facing live pitching, I knew it would take a couple of innings to get back in the groove.”
Braden Roemhild led off the fourth with a single, followed by walks to Trett Joles and Connor Sempf. Retz came through again, this time with a double to bring in two runs and Jacob Granley brought in another run with a sacrifice fly for a 9-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, the Bulldog pitching staff was mowing down the Panthers with Sempf allowing just one hit in the first four innings with six strikeouts and no free passes. Granley came in for the fifth inning and gave up one hit and one walk but whiffed two batters.
Boyceville ended the game in five innings when they scored their final three runs. Braden Roemhild again led off with a base hit, Joles drew his fourth walk of the contest, and the bases were cleared when Sempf clobbered a homerun.
“For the most part, I liked our approach at the plate but I know we are a better hitting team than what we showed,” coach Roemhild said. “Their pitcher (Joey Biesterveld) caught us off guard. He was throwing decent speed and we needed to get our feet wet at the plate. Defensively, Sempf pitched a great game for his first start of the year. And we backed him up with some great plays at shortstop by Retz, some nice stretches at first base by Trevor Hollister and Joles called a good game from behind the plate. He made one of the best throws I have ever seen, throwing a runner out at second on a passed ball. And Granley had some pop on his fastball in the fifth inning. We had a few errors which I figured would happen but we didn’t let it get to us and we stayed strong behind our pitchers,” he added.
Retz finished with two hits and five RBIs while scoring twice. Roemhild banged out two hits. stole a base and scored twice. Joles walked four times, swiped four bases and scored three times. Sempf had one hit with three RBIs and crossed home plate three times.
11 different batters had at least one hit for the Bulldogs and ten players had at least one RBI as they won a second straight conference game in five innings, beating the Hilltoppers 21-4 on Glenwood City’s home field April 29.
Boyceville held just a 7-3 lead after three innings but erupted for seven runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to finish the game off.
Ira Bialzik batted 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, Nick Litomsky had a hit with two RBIs, Retz was 3-for-3 with another homerun and four RBI, Granley and Sempf each collected a pair of RBIs with Sempf smacking a triple, and Joles brought four runners home.
Brady Helland pitched the first four innings, allowing eight hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Trevor Hollister finished it off, whiffing three Topper batters.
“Helland threw a lot of strikes and only gave up one earned run,” coach Roemhild said.
“We didn’t play our best defense behind him but it did not rattle him. Our base running looked sloppy and confused at times. We could definitely tell it was only game two for us,” he concluded.
The Bulldogs held a slim 1-0 lead after three innings but got the bats rolling, putting four runs across in the top of the fourth.
Boycveille added four more in the sixth to put the game on ice, and with Retz in control on the mound, Granley finished off the final inning.
Retz had his name all over the scorebook, batting 4-for-4 with a triple and five RBIs, while pitching six innings. He earned the win giving up three hits with no walks and whiffing 14 batters.
Joles went 2-for-4 with a double and scored twice and Chase Hollister knocked in a pair of runs. Granley issued one walk but struck out three hitters in relief.
“Defensively, Walker Retz was a machine,” stated Coach Roemhild. “This was his first outing for us this year and I was excited to see his growth from his sophomore year. I have never heard the sound of a ball being thrown so hard or the crack of Trett’s mitt when it hit.”
“Our plan was to throw Walker about 2-3 innings but he just kept saying I’m good for one more and we were able to keep his pitch count down,” added Roemhild. “He threw six innings of phenomenal baseball striking out 14 of 18 batters.”
“Defensively we had four errors that we just can’t have happen, especially when our pitchers are throwing that well,” concluded the coach. “And offensively, we still aren’t where I would like to be, but it’s only game three.”