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Redbirds lose heartbreaker to Papermakers

By Murray Gleffe

GREEN BAY – No lead is safe in postseason play.

The De Pere baseball team found that out the hard way, as an early five-run lead evaporated late as they fell to Kimberly 9-8 in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal game June 4 at Joannes Stadium.

“Our hitters have been outstanding all season,” said De Pere head coach Bob VanRens. “We got out to a big lead and just couldn’t sustain the early momentum we built. Give Kimberly credit – they battled back and got the runs they needed.”

The Redbirds were not fazed by the 10 a.m. start.

Ben Basten walked to open the game and successfully reached second on a stolen base.

Will Semb drove him in minutes later with a shot to center to put the Redbirds up 1-0.

The Papermakers added a run themselves in the bottom of the first to even the game at one. 

It then became an offensive display for De Pere in the next two innings.

Brett Bradison singled to open the second, and Tyler Jones reached first after a Kimberly throwing error.

Basten walked again to load the bases. 

Tyler Blum hit a pop out that was deep enough in the outfield for Bradison to tag and come home for a 2-1 Redbirds’ lead.

Semb and Henry Donaldson singled off starting Kimberly pitcher John Nett, as two more runs scored for a 4-1 lead. 

In the top of the third, Jones went yard for the Redbirds, blasting a 385-foot bomb over the left-field wall to give the Redbirds a 6-1 lead over a team that hadn’t been defeated since April 26.

“I just saw the pitch real well,” said Jones. “It’s amazing to hit a home run in such a historic park as this. A lot of emotions were running through my head after it happened.”

The tide turned in the fifth inning.

De Pere stranded three, as they couldn’t add to its 6-1 lead.

Kimberly made their move in the bottom half of the inning by scoring four runs to make it 6-5. 

The Redbirds added a run in the top of the sixth to go back up 7-5, but the Papermakers had another big inning in the sixth. 

After Caleb Obermann scored to cut the margin to one, Beau Schumacher unleashed a three-run homer to center for a 9-7 lead.

The Redbirds didn’t go down without a fight.

In the top of the seventh, JP Gauthier and Jones opened with singles and Semb walked, loading the bases.

After a ground-out and fly out, Donaldson singled to bring in one run, but reliever Donovan Schultz got the final out as Kimberly advanced to the sectional final.

“This has been such a close-knit group,” added VanRens. “My grandmother died midway through the season, and the guys came and waited in line to pay their respects to me and my family. That right there says a lot. We’re a young team. I’m excited for next season.”

Box score

De Pere: 132 001 1—8
Kimberly: 100 044 x—9

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