Redemption: Pulaski wins rematch over De Pere
By Rich Palzewic
PULASKI – On May 13, the Pulaski baseball team watched De Pere celebrate after Derek Weber hit a walk-off, two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to win it for the Redbirds.
Two weeks later, the Red Raiders made sure it didn’t happen again.
Fueled by Easton Vertz’s complete-game effort on the mound and a nine-run third inning, Pulaski thumped De Pere in the Fox River Classic Conference rematch May 28, 9-0.
“It was a big win for us,” said Pulaski second baseman Jarron McKeefry, who had a three-RBI double in the third to help break the game open. “I wouldn’t say it was a revenge game, but the loss (May 13) stuck with us for a few days.”
With the Red Raiders (7-9 overall, 4-9 FRCC) already leading 5-0 in the third, McKeefry came up to bat with the bases loaded and two outs.
He said he saw a fastball on the inner half of the plate from De Pere pitcher Hunter Pribek, who had relieved starter, Austin Litts, two batters prior.
“I was simply trying to make contact and drive in a few runs,” McKeefry said. “It worked out better than I anticipated.”
When Pulaski head coach Dennis Bogacz finished his post-game speech in the outfield after the game, the team broke the huddle and said, “Redemption.”
“The game meant lots to our team,” Bogacz said. “The way we lost (May 13) was hard. High school sports are emotional, and we were down after that game.”
He said a 16-2 loss to Bay Port May 25 also helped his team regain its focus.
“We challenged the kids after that game,” Bogacz said. “Bay Port scored 14 runs in the first inning. In this game, Easton threw incredibly, but everyone contributed to this victory – I’m proud of the guys.”
Vertz struck out four De Pere (13-3, 10-3) batters in the first inning and six of the first seven.
The Redbirds’ second batter of the game, Bennett Spaeth, struck out, but the ball got by Red Raiders catcher Logan Hochevar, allowing Spaeth to reach first base.
“You have to tip your hat to Easton,” said Bob Van Rens, De Pere head coach. “We had a hard time picking up the ball. He’s a great pitcher and was tough on us.”
Van Rens said the third inning was tough for his team.
“Things steamrolled in that inning,” he said. “We also made some mistakes. We need to pull ourselves together after mistakes, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Pulaski sent 13 batters to the plate during the marathon inning.
Besides McKeefry’s big hit, Vertz, Jarrett Olson, Jonah Klingheisen and Alex Brodhagen each had RBI.
De Pere didn’t help its cause by committed two errors.
“We had been rolling before this game,” Van Rens said. “After we lost a doubleheader to Bay Port (May 15), we won six in a row. We got stepped on during this game, so it’ll be interesting to see how we bounce back. We might become stronger as a team after a game like this.”