By Rich Palzewic
WRIGHTSTOWN – The Seymour baseball team ran into the strong pitching of Rhinelander starter Isaac Bixby during a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 sectional semifinal game June 22 at Wrightstown High School.
The Thunder managed only three hits in a 6-1 loss.
“Tip your hat to Rhinelander and Bixby,” Curt Jefson, Seymour head coach, said. “We knew Bixby would be good. Honestly, we didn’t face a pitcher as good as him the whole season. We didn’t do a great job of adjusting to his pitches. He had a nice slider. Rhinelander also did a great job of putting the ball in play. It didn’t seem to matter where (our pitchers) put the ball – they were hitting it. We didn’t have many hits, and they had lots.”
After the Hodags jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the second inning, the Thunder scored a single run in the third to make it 2-1.
Will DeBruin reached on an error and was plated on Mason Dorn’s RBI single one batter later.
Seymour had a chance to tie the game in the fourth but failed to score.
After Marcus Jens led off the inning with a double, Tyse Leisgang swung away instead of sacrifice bunting and dribbled one back to Bixby, who looked Jens back to second and threw to first to record the out.
“I was playing for a bit more that inning,” Jefson said about why he didn’t sacrifice bunt with Leisgang. “Tyse has had a good year for us, and the entire right side (of the infield) was open for us. It did cross my mind to bunt him, but I didn’t.”
Jefson then chose to bunt with Colin Leisgang at the plate to advance Jens to third, but then Bixby ended the inning with a strikeout.
Rhinelander blew the game open with a four-run fourth, highlighted by five hits, including doubles by Ian Miller and Kolby Ridderbusch.
The Thunder didn’t help their cause by committing two errors in the inning.
Seymour starting pitcher Brett Tetzlaff, who surrendered five runs on seven hits in his three-plus innings of work, was relieved by Jacob Woldt in the third.
DeBruin had the only other hit for the Thunder.
Seymour loses nine seniors – Dorn, C. Leisgang, Treyton Cornell, Jason VanDenLangdenberg, Aiden Linsmeyer, Tetzlaff, Javon Leisgang, Jens and T. Leisgang – from this year’s roster.
“It’s a special group of kids,” Jefson said of his seniors. “They are a group of survivors who went through two years of COVID-19. As baseball players, I told them ‘I loved them.’ They did everything I asked of them. They grew lots from the beginning of the year. At one point, we were 1-4. They are a group of tough-minded kids.”
Despite the loss of the big group, Jefson said the future is bright for Thunder baseball.
“It’s tough to think about now, but we have a nice group coming up,” he said. “We should be alright, but I’m disappointed in today.”