Home » Sports » Top-ranked West De Pere baseball falls in state semifinals

Top-ranked West De Pere baseball falls in state semifinals

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

LITTLE CHUTE – This was a hard one to see coming.

The No. 1-ranked West De Pere baseball team couldn’t find any runs in a 3-0 loss to unranked Antigo in the WIAA Division 2 state semifinals at Fox Cities Stadium June 13.

It was the first time the Phantoms (27-3) had been shut out in a game since May 2018.

“I just told the guys how proud of them I was for getting to this point,” said West De Pere head coach Joe Rukamp. “We haven’t been to state in nine years, but unfortunately, it’s how the game goes. When you’re in a one-game situation, you have to take advantage of your opportunities. Take nothing away from Antigo, but I still feel like we were the best team in the tournament.”

The Phantoms left five runners on base and had only five hits off Antigo starting pitcher Brady Renfro.

Renfro, a Valparaiso University recruit, walked only one and struck out seven.

“He pitched really well,” Rukamp said. “I think he was effectively wild a little bit. He’d throw a pitch here or there and then all of sudden would come right back on the outside corner. You have to tip your hat to him – he made the pitches when he had to. Sometimes as a hitter, those are the toughest pitchers to face because you’re not quite sure if the pitch is going to the backstop or will be knee-high on the corner.”

The Phantoms were originally scheduled to play at 6 p.m. June 12, but rain forced the game switch to 8 a.m. June 13.

“It was tough to deal with the change, but Antigo went through the same thing as we did,” said Rukamp. “We were set for the [Wednesday] night game, but we hung out in De Pere, ate and took batting practice a few times to stay ready.”

West De Pere went with the senior Connor Langreder, a Northern Illinois commit, on the mound over the junior Ben Hampton.

“In our minds, we’ve had two No. 1 pitchers all year,” Rukamp said. “We wanted to give our senior the opportunity and see what happened. I was 100 percent confident in whoever we started. You have to score runs to win the game, and we didn’t score any.”

Langreder was 8-0 on the season with a 0.47 earned run average and 76 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched.

Hampton was 9-1 with 1.10 ERA in his 57-plus innings while recording 103 strikeouts.

Hampton led off the game for West De Pere with a walk but was promptly picked off by the lefty Renfro.

The Phantoms Zach Ziesmer and Bennett Olson both had singles to start the second inning and advanced a base on a wild pitch, but three consecutive strikeouts by Renfro left two stranded.

“In a game like this when you are facing good pitching, a run here or there is a big momentum swing,” said Rukamp. “We had our opportunity right there to put a run or two on the board, so who knows the outcome if we could have scored. They made the plays when they had to, and we did not.”

The Red Robins missed their own golden opportunity in the bottom of the second when they loaded the bases, but Langreder ended the inning by coaxing a fly ball to right.

Antigo scored a single run in the third and a pair in the fifth with the aid of two West De Pere errors.

Included in the inning was a botched rundown play where Antigo’s Eric Langseth went from first to second and eventually scored.

After the promising second inning for the Phantoms went nowhere, Renfro allowed only two hits the rest of the way, including retiring 15 of the last 17 batters to end the game.

West De Pere committed three errors in the game.

The Phantoms will look to rebound next year despite the loss of 11 seniors.

“I hope a game like this and the run we had gives the guys motivation to work hard in the offseason,” Rukamp said. “We have a lot of younger guys who were key members of this team – they have to learn from the seniors. This one is going to hurt for a while, but hopefully, it motivates our guys to work hard for the next 12 months.”

Box score

West De Pere: 000 000 0 – 0 5 3
Antigo: 001 020 X – 3 7 1

Facebook Comments
Scroll to Top