Prep Baseball Report

Top-10 Stories of 2021: Boyceville's WIAA Dominance Leads to D4 State Title

By: Diego Solares
Staff Writer, Associate Scout

At the end of each calendar year, our staff reflects on the most interesting stories of the past year. Through the end of the month, we’ll be counting down some of the most impactful headlines that affected Wisconsin’s baseball community, ending with our No. 1 story of 2021 revealed on New Year’s Day.

On Monday, June 28, the D4 state playoffs took place at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, WI, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Boyceville, Rosholt, Greenwood, and Southwestern represented this year’s four teams battling for a state title.

The state semi-final matchups took place before the D4 championship game kicked off at 6:05 p.m. Top-seeded Boyceville defeated Southwestern 11-1 in the first game of the day, while Rosholt ousted Greenwood 6-1 in the second game to set up a championship matchup between arguably the two top team’s at the D4 level.

Things were quiet in this one until the Bulldogs scratched two runs across in the bottom of the third inning. OF Ira Bialzik (2022) led the inning off with a single to right field and C Trett Joles (2021; Indiana State) reached base on an infield single. A passed ball moved them both into scoring position and set the stage for a two-run opposite field single off the bat of RHP Walker Retz (2021; University of St. Thomas).

The top of the Bulldogs’ lineup carried them offensively throughout the regular season and did so again in the bottom of the fifth. Joles reached base on a hit by pitch and swiped second, moving into scoring position with nobody out. INF Connor Sempf (2021; uncommitted) and Retz reached base on free passes, loading the bases with nobody out. 1B Trevor Hollister (2021) barreled one to center field for a sacrifice fly, extending the Bulldogs’ lead to three heading to the top of the sixth.

Boyceville padded their lead in the bottom of the sixth after Bialzik barreled one the opposite way with a runner on second base, bringing a run home. Three outs away from a state title, the Bulldogs led Rosholt 4-0 heading to the top of the seventh.

A valiant effort on the mound by the aforementioned Retz was a huge reason why Boyceville was able to capture this state title. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Retz went the distance, striking out 13 in a shutout effort. He attacked hitters all game with an 84-87 mph fastball and spun a tight curveball at 75-77 mph with late action off an 11/5 plane. Retz put the finishing touches on an incredibly successful prep career with a dominant start in his most important game donning a Bulldogs’ uniform.

Despite the Rosholt loss, RHP/INF Blade Niewiadomski (2022) emerged as a true follow talent in the state’s incoming senior class. Niewiadomski is built at a strong, muscle-bound 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame and he looks the part on the field, too. He got the nod for the Hornets, pumping his fastball in at 83-86 mph, touching 87 mph, and mixing in a sweeping slider at 70-73 mph. He also hit out of the three-hole for the Hornets and turned on an 86 mph fastball with ease, pounding it off the left field wall for a stand-up double in the top of the fourth inning. 

Boyceville finished what they had initially started back in the 2019 season, when they last returned to state,  and captured the first ever state championship in school history, capping off a historic 21-1 season.