WIAA State Tournament: Day 1


By Wisconsin Staff

Today, Tuesday, June 11, is the start of the WIAA state baseball tournament. As per usual, Day One consists of the eight Division-1 quarter-finalists battling against each other for a spot in Thursday’s D-1 championship game. Below, we’re compiling the game recaps for each of the day’s six games – four quarterfinals and two semis.

This post will update throughout the day.

Game No. 1

No. 4 Burlington – 3
No. 6 Green Bay Preble – 0

GRAND CHUTE, WI - Burlington’s senior southpaw Trey Krause made easy work of the Green Bay Preble offense, shutting out the Hornets 3-0 in the first quarterfinal game of the day.

Trause was sharp from the get go, showing some of the best velocity we’ve seen from the Illinois State commit. Krause worked 87-88 mph early on, touching 89 mph, but it was the use of his breaking ball that kept Preble hitters at bay. He showed the ability to add and subtract off of his breaking ball depending on the situation while getting swing and miss slider type action at the peak end of its velocity (72-74 mph). Krause finished the day with a line of - 7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 BB, 9 K in 101 pitches.

Krause’s counterpart on the mound, RHP Max Wagner (Green Bay Preble, 2020) also had his A stuff, but a two out infield error in the third opened the doors for all three of Burlington’s runs. Wagner had an upper 80’s fastball working that touched 90 mph, and a hard biting curveball at 75-78 mph. Unfortunately for the Hornets, their offense could not provide the runs.

Game No. 2

No. 13 Sun Prairie – 3
No. 12 Oak Creek – 2

Sun Prairie struck first and last in their quarterfinal game with Oak Creek on Tuesday, clinging to a 3-2 lead with the help of junior reliever Carson Fluno, who pitched four shutout innings to help the Cardinals earn a semifinals berth later this evening against Burlington.

Carson Shepard, Sun Prairie’s energizing lead-off hitter, did his usual, sparking a couple of rallies, including a single in the first that he came around to score on eventually on Josh Caron’s sacrifice fly to straightaway center. He pulled another lead-off base hit to left, this time for a double, and scored on a fielder’s choice later in the frame to tie the game up at two.

Oak Creek grabbed the lead in the previous half-inning after a walk came around to score on Logan Brahm’s double. Brahm himself scored on a sac fly, off the bat of Gunnar Doyle, which gave them that brief 2-1 lead.

Fluno entered the game in the fourth and came out firing, sitting in the 87-89 mph range and the Knights had trouble picking it up. Meanwhile, the Cardinals were lifted back into the lead, and for good, when Spencer Bartel drilled a hard line drive into the right-center gap that rolled to the wall for a stand-up triple to start the sixth. After Caron walked, he attempted to steal second and a throw from Oak Creek senior backstop Colin Kalinowski looked like it was headed for the bag, but it was deflected off Caron and into the outfield which allowed Bartel to score the go-ahead run with ease.

Oak Creek’s sophomore reliever Isaac Engelbrecht struck out the side from there, but the Knights were still looking up at the scoreboard again. And with Fluno on the mound, Oak Creek didn’t have an answer. They looked poised to tie it in the sixth and seventh, but a pickoff play stalled a rally and Fluno four clutch strikeouts in both frames to shut the Knights down for good. He punched out back-to-back batters in the bottom of the seventh to strand the tying run at second, leading the Cards to victory, 3-2.

SCOUT NOTES

+ 2B Carson Shepard (Sun Prairie, 2021): He had a huge day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double, and he served that exact role as top-of-the-order spark plug. He stayed on a quality breaking ball and lined it into center to lead off the game and is always eager to grab the extra base when he can. His internal clock at second base is also good, though sometimes he can work a little too quickly, which opens himself up to a bobbled transfer, or pulling down a tag before fully securing the ball. But all of the actions are there to be an up-the-middle fit at the next level.

+ RHP Carson Fluno (Sun Prairie, 2020): Fluno came in for relief in the fourth and fired four straight fastballs at 89 mph before touching a 90 mph. He has a loose, quick arm and he’s able to get some natural run on his fastball, too. The fastball dialed back into the 87-88 mph range as he went on, but was just as effective, and he showed some feel to locate on the corners. His offspeed is still a work in progress; a change-of-pace slider that he only threw a few times in-game, and struggled to find the feel for on this day.

Game No. 3 

Hamilton –  12
No. 16 Eau Claire North – 15

GRAND CHUTE, WI - After a pair of low scoring games in the morning session, Eau Claire North and Hamilton was anything but, getting the afternoon quarterfinal session off to a back and forth start. Both teams put up six-run innings, a five-run inning and a seven-run inning by Eau Claire North that sealed the win. With all the big innings, much of the early scoring came without the use of many hits.

Sam Stange, Gabe O’Brien and Gabe Richardson were the story at the plate for the Huskies. O’Brien, a senior outfielder committed to Madison College, hits leadoff and from the left side with a ton of bat to ball skills. O’Brien finished with four hits, two doubles in five at bats while driving in one,

Stange, another Husky senior, who is committed to playing hockey at the University of Wisconsin, has a similar profile to O’Brien at the plate. Stane cam into the game hitting .522 on the year and added three more hits to his hit total, including two triples and four RBI. If it wasn’t for his prowess on the ice, Stange would be a sure fire top of the lineup bat at the next level.

Richardson, just a freshman, has taken to the varsity level extremely well this year, his .450 average is second on the team, and has advanced pop for his age. Richardson drove in two runs on two hits, including a dobel to the left-center wall. Keep an eye on Richardson for years to come, as he projects to be one of the better right-handed power bats in his class.

After a shaky start on the mound for Eau Claire North, senior RHP Carter Hesselman settle the Huskies down, working 4.2 innings of two-run baseball in relief. Hessleman, a UW-Oshkosh commimt is a low 80’s strike-throwing right-hander with feel for an above average breaking ball.

GAME NO. 4

No. 23 Brookfield East – 1
Fond du Lac – 2 (F/9)

This game’s pair of starters dominated, shutting down each other’s offense for seven innings, requiring an exhilarating extra innings push on both sides.

For Fond du Lac, they sent their No. 1 to the mound, Sam Hernandez. He hardly was in trouble at all, keeping Brookfield East totally off balance throughout. He wound up punching out seven and limited the Spartans to just three hits, all soft singles.

As for Brookfield East, they called on their big righty Riley LeTourneau (Madison JC commit) to do the job. After dodging past a scoring chance in the first frame, he cruised over the next five frames until the Cardinals battled themselves into a real chance to end it in the bottom of the seventh. A lead-off single Justin Schnell, followed by a hit by pitch and successful sacrifice bunt, put the game-winning run on third with one out. LeTourneau fought to earn a strikeout on a breaking ball in the dirt and the dropped third strike led to a circus play that resulted in catcher Ethan Toone (Evansville) chasing down the runner at third and lobbing it to first to complete the inning-ending double play.

The chaos energized East’s dugout and it immediately resulted in a run. Harrison Toone was hit to lead-off the top of the eighth and he was eventually driven in by his brother Ethan to give the Spartans the game’s first lead.

But Fond du Lac’s resiliency is exactly why they’ve made it this far. With East’s other ace on the mound, Bailey Banaszynski (Winona State), Fond du Lac’s Dawson Wyrobeck singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. And after a sac bunt moved him over, Caden Krug shot a double down the right field line to plate tying run. Banaszynski did well to keep it tied, granting his team another turn at the plate, but the Spartans went down in order – against Krug, actually, who was relieving by this point.

Then, in the bottom of the ninth, another Schnell single sparked a rally. A sac bunt moved him over to second and he sped home to score the walk-off, quarterfinals winner on Drew Bolander’s deep double to the left-center gap.

Fond du Lac’s unlikely, remarkable run to state continues. They’re back in action this evening against Eau Claire North, following the conclusion of the first semifinal between Sun Prairie and Burlington.

SCOUT NOTES

+ RHP Riley LeTourneau (Brookfield East, 2019; Madison JC): The big righty was showing more control than we’d ever seen out of him in the past, all while maintaining premium velocity with relative ease. In the first couple of innings, LeTourneau was sitting in the 89-91 mph range, touching 92 mph twice. He dialed it back a few ticks the rest of the way, but was able to keep Fond du Lac guessing while mixing in a slow curve, 66-70 mph, with depth and feel for the zone, which he threw with regularity. He limited Fond du Lac to no runs on two hits, one walk, and two hit by pitches in his seven shutout innings.

+ RHP Sam Hernandez (Fond du Lac, 2019; uncommitted): The athletic 6-foot righty is a strike-thrower and came out sitting in the 80-82 mph range, T83 mph. He also mixed in a slurve-y slider, 69-71 mph, with above-average lateral movement that he was able to locate on the backdoor to lefties and earn chases to right-handers. He did not allow a run in his seven innings of work, allowing just four hits, two walks, and striking out seven.

+ SS Caden Krug (Fond du Lac, 2019; uncommitted): Krug is an athletic shortstop, at 6-foot, 160 pounds. He fields in rhythm and has a quick transfer/release with throws across the infield that show above-average carry. He hit .320 for the Cardinals this spring and added a timely double in the game to tie it in the bottom of the eighth.

Game No. 5 - Semifinals

No. 4 Burlington 1
No. 13 Sun Prairie 6

GRAND CHUTE, WI - Burlington has relied on the steady 1-2 punch of seniors Trey Krause and Trent Turzenski this season. Krause did his part in the Quarterfinals, and now it was Turzenski’s turn in the semi’s.

Turzenski, a Valparaiso commit, is a 6-foot-6, 220-pound right-hander and came out with some of his best stuff. His fastball sat 90-92 mph in the first inning with a 75-77 mph curveball. But the Sun Prairie Cardinals were up to the task. The Cardinals offense is loaded with talent and it proved against Turzenski, knocking him up for three runs in the first inning.

Bennett Halbleib followed Josh Caron’s RBI single with a two RBI knock of his own, giving Sun Prairie and early 3-0 lead. Caron, a sophmore OF/C, has been one of the leading hitters for Coach Hamilton’s squad, and one of the top ranked bats in his class. Caron lead the offense with three hits and three RBI.

The early three- run lead proved enough for strike-throwing senior Robbie Knorr. Knorr sat 80-83 mph and pounded the zone with multiple pitches, keeping the Demon hitters at bay. Knorr went the distance working seven complete allowing just the one run and striking out four.

GAME NO. 6 - Semifinals

No. 16 Eau Claire North – 8
Fond du Lac – 4

Fond du Lac’s miraculous run to the Division-1 state tournament is over. Eau Claire North took their hot bats to the semifinals game and reheated them to cruise to an 8-4 win in the final game of Tuesday evening.

Yet another Sam Stange run-scoring base hit started the scoring in the top of the first and he came around to score on freshman Gabriel Richardson’s single to left.

They piled onto their 2-0 lead in the third by batting around and scoring five more times, capped by a two-run triple off the bat of senior Gabe O’Brien.

Fond du Lac looked geared to make another out-of-nowhere comeback, chipping away and bringing themselves back within four, down 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth. The Cardinals loaded the bases with one away, and were aided by a couple of Eau Claire North errors, and it looked like they were about to get right back into the ballgame when Julian Murillo lined a ball right at North’s third baseman Richardson, and he caught it and stepped on third to end the threat.

It was right then, that it felt like Fond du Lac’s postseason magic dried out.

The Huskies clung to the lead the lead and finished off the seventh with the 8-4 lead intact, to propel them to Thursday’s D-1 title game, where they’ll meet Sun Prairie. All of the Eau Claire starters had at least one hit in this quarterfinals game. Five Huskies were needed on the mound in order to secure the win, which begs the question who will be asked to take the ball against the other Cardinals. Regardless, North will figure it out, and they’re thrilled to be moving on.

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