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West De Pere’s VandeHei mows down Thunder

By Greg Bates

DE PERE – The curveball wasn’t working early for Bryce VandeHei, but his fastball sure was doing the trick.

The West De Pere senior pitcher threw five innings of one-hit ball, and his team’s offense put up crooked numbers in two innings as the Phantoms baseball team beat Bay Conference rival Seymour 6-0 Tuesday, May 4.

“I couldn’t get the curveball for the first few innings,” said VandeHei, who improved to 2-0 on the mound this season. “I wasn’t getting on top of it, so I was figuring it out in the fourth and fifth innings.”

VandeHei threw 4 1/3 innings of no-hit ball despite not having his best stuff on a windy day.

“He was a little erratic, a couple too many walks, but he made big pitches when he had to get out of a couple jams,” West De Pere head coach Joe Rukamp said. “He settled in as the game went along.”

West De Pere (4-0, 2-0 Bay) had only six hits on the day, but the guys got them in critical spots.

Seymour (1-4, 0-2) was limited to two hits and left nine runners stranded on base, five in scoring position.

“That’s been the story of our season,” Seymour head coach Curt Jefson said. “We’ve left lots of runners on. We have lots of good players – it’s just a matter of one of them clutching up, and I think it will catch fire. That’s baseball, as they say.”

West De Pere started the second inning with a Braydon Skenandore walk, followed by Jourdon Schuyler getting hit by a pitch and a Myles Jensen single to load the bases.

Lucas Bartelt then smacked a two-RBI single to left field to plate Skenandore and Schuyler.

Benje Hencke made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly to bring in Jensen.

Seymour had its biggest threat in the third when Marcus Jens was plunked by a pitch and Jacob Woldt and Aiden Linsmeyer both walked to fill the bases with one out.

But VandeHei retired the Thunder’s No. 4 and 5 hitters: Jason Vanden Langenberg struck out, and Javon Leisgang grounded out.

The Phantoms were at it again in the fifth as Josh Blount drew a one-out walk, Kaden Kosobucki legged out an infield hit and Skenandore laced an RBI double.

Schuyler then ripped a two-run double to left to break the game open, 6-0.

“First, I fouled off a fastball, and I knew I needed to slow it down in the box,” Schuyler said. “He ended up throwing me an inside curve, I waited back, threw the head of the bat on it and put a good swing on it and it carried to the fence.”

Rukamp said he enjoyed seeing his guys pick up big hits in key situations.

“We got guys in scoring position, and all of a sudden, somebody steps up and gets a big hit,” he said. “That’s what it takes – different guys stepping up. The bottom of the order did it the one time, then the middle order did it the next time around. That’s the part that’s going to make us a good team – we’re not going to rely on a couple of guys.”

Six different players had hits for West De Pere.

“It’s good when the whole lineup’s hitting and guys like Blount and Buck (Kosobucki) and Braydon – we’re all going to have our days when we’re going to lay into the ball – those days will come,” Schuyler said. “It’s good to know the whole lineup can hit in key moments.”

Seymour’s two hits came from Woldt and Mason Dorn.

Tyse Leisgang started on the hill for the Thunder and went the first 1 1/3 innings.

He surrendered three runs on two hits.

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