Top-10 Stories of 2021: Sun Prairie Runs Table As No. 1, Wins Ninth 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-1 state championship took place on Thursday, July 1, at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, WI, the home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Sun Prairie, Menomonee Falls, Bay Port, and Eau Claire Memorial went head-to-head to see who would be crowned the state champion.

In the first game of the three-game slate, Sun Prairie defeated Menomonee Falls 10-7, securing their spot in yet another championship game. Bay Port and Eau Claire Memorial dueled in the second semi-final matchup, eventually leading to an 8-1 win by the Pirates. This set the stage for a classic matchup between the state’s top two teams and the two teams that held the top spot in our Power 25 rankings for quite some time.

The final game of not only the state championship, but the entire WIAA season, involved arguably the top two teams in the state and that definitely showed throughout the game. Neither team scored a run until the fifth inning, largely in part to quality pitching from both sides and several strong defensive plays.

RHP Jackson Hunley (2023) started on the mound for the Cardinals, even though he had already pitched earlier in the day. Hunley pitched four quality innings while scattering four hits, allowing no runs and no walks. Due to WIAA pitching regulations he had to be taken out in the fourth inning.

An explosive fifth and sixth inning largely contributed to the Cardinals’ high-octane offensive explosion. INF Carter Wambach (2021; McHenry County College) started things off for the Cardinals with a single. The next batter, OF Addison Ostrenga (2021: Iowa) also singled and moved Wambach to third. After a pop fly, INF Davis Hamilton (2022; uncommitted) came up to the plate and delivered an RBI single that scored Wambach.

The Cardinals weren’t done yet. C Josh Caron (2021; Nebraska) smashed a ball over the center fielder's head which resulted in two runs, and left Caron at third. After some unfortunate walks and hit by pitches, the Cardinals ended up with five runs in the inning, giving them a commanding 5-0 lead with six outs to go.

The Pirates didn’t go down without a fight. In the top of the sixth, after a walk and a single, OF James Bornick (2021; Marian) smoked a ball up the middle to score two runs and make the score 5-2 after the top of the sixth.

Sun Prairie responded to those runs with six of their own in the bottom of the sixth. 

Ostrenga led off the inning with a single and then INF Carson Shepard (2021; Ohio) reached base on an error. It was Hamilton who delivered again, just like he did in the past inning, by drilling a ball to center field that brought both runners home, upping the Cardinal lead to 7-2.

After a walk to Caron, OF Durlin Radlund (2021) singled on a line drive that scored the two runners on base. Another walk moved Radlund over to second and allowed Wambach to drill a ball to center field, which scored two more runs in the inning and left Wambach on second.

Like he has all season as the Cardinal’s relief ace, Caron closed the game out over the final three innings, relieving Hunley. He shut the door down in the seventh, securing Sun Prairie’s WIAA leading ninth state championship. It capped off a historic season for the Cardinals, who won 29 games and didn’t move once from the top of our Power 25 rankings.