Top-10 Stories of 2021: Denmark Caps Historic Season With WIAA D2 State Title

By: Diego Solares & Isaiah Glidden
Wisconsin Staff

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.

The WIAA D-2 state playoffs took place at Fox Cities Stadium, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, on Wednesday, June 30th. Denmark, Rice Lake, Jefferson, and Catholic Memorial all competed to be named the 2021 D-3 state champion.

The first game of the three-game slate pitted top-seeded Denmark against Rice Lake, which resulted in a dominant 10-3 win by the Vikings, thus moving them on to the championship game. Game two featured a game much closer than the final score indicated, as Jefferson defeated Catholic Memorial 7-1, punching their ticket to an afternoon contest against Denmark.

The Vikings were the first to score in the game and it came in the bottom of the first. INF Abe Kapinoes (2022) led off with a single for the Vikings and used his speed to advance to third on a sacrifice bunt by the next batter. With one out and Kapinoes on third, INF/RHP Logan Paplham (2021; Lake Land JC) drove one to deep left field, scoring Kapinoes as Denmark drew first blood.

We didn’t see another run for either team until the top of the fourth. LHH 1B/RHP Tyler Butina (2023) led off the inning with a double to right field. The next batter bunted him over and set the stage for C Tanner Pinnow (2022), who shot a hard ground ball back up the middle, tying things up at 1-1.

The Vikings used an important bottom of the fourth to eventually seal the win. After a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt that moved the runner to second, DH Kenny Satori (2022) drilled one into center for an RBI single. Satori was eventually moved over on a bunt single by OF Ethan Ovsak (2023), then moved over to third on a sacrifice fly, and eventually scored on a passed ball making the score 3-1, Vikings.

After a pitching change for the Eagles, P/OF Hayden Konkol (2022) came up to the plate with runners on second and first with two outs and delivered. Konkol hit a single to the left fielder that scored one more run, adding to the Vikings’ lead and making it a 4-1 ballgame.

That is where the scoring ended for both teams. RHP/INF Brennen Miller (2021; College of Lake County) started and pitched a gem for the Vikings. The righty went six and one-third innings, striking out eight and only allowing one earned run. Miller forcefully exited the game due to WIAA pitch regulations, handing the ball off to senior LHP Reece Piontek (Concordia St. Paul), the Vikings’ game one starter. Piontek closed the game out with a strikeout and groundout, securing the biggest win in program history for Denmark.

The Vikings had reached the state championship game twice before in school history, finishing as the runners-up both times. This 2021 team etched their names into the record books, putting the final touches on a 31-1 season with the program’s first ever state title. They finished the year on an absolute tear, winning 18 straight games.