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Johnson, Preble come back to beat Bay Port

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

SUAMICO – It’s not how you start but how you finish.

That was the battle cry of the Green Bay Preble baseball team in its come-from-behind, 5-4 Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) victory over Bay Port April 9.

Trailing 4-0 after two innings, the Hornets scored five runs in the fourth to jump ahead and held on from there.

Preble pitcher Ian Johnson fired six innings of six-hit ball, with all of those hits coming in the first three innings.

The junior Johnson surrendered three runs in the first and another in the second before shutting the Pirates down the rest of the way.

“I want to thank my teammates,” Johnson said. “They played defense behind me and got the hits to get us back in the game.”

Johnson, who throws in the mid-70s and tops out at about 80 mph, said he was looking forward to this game for three months.

“I asked (Preble Head) Coach (Clint Petasek) two weeks ago if I could pitch this game because I wanted the opportunity,” he said. “This was my first outing of the season, and I was hitting my locations. I threw it where my catcher was set up.”

When Hornets’ first baseman Austin Renard secured the last out of the game on a pop-up, the Preble bench rushed the field and exploded in excitement.

“Last season, we got showed up a couple of times (by Bay Port),” Johnson said. “They beat us pretty bad. There was lots of chatter in their dugout, so it’s great to beat them.”

The Pirates strung together three hits in the first inning, highlighted by John Nickel’s leadoff triple and Grant Gill’s two-RBI double to grab a 3-0 lead.

Bay Port added another run in the second on an RBI double by Cal Casper to go up 4-0, but after that, Johnson settled down.

Preble sent 11 batters to the plate in the five-run fifth.

The Hornets collected five hits and were aided by two Bay Port errors in the marathon inning.

Johnson helped his own cause by bashing a two-RBI double.

In the bottom of the seventh, with starting shortstop Jake Petasek now on the mound, Casper and Cole Bensen started with singles for Bay Port.

Petasek then forced a pop out, a ground out and another pop out to earn the save.

“What a great win,” Coach Petasek said. “Ian (Johnson) started a little high (with his pitches), but he battled back and kept his composure. Being down 4-0 is a tough situation, but my guys didn’t hang their heads. I kept asking (Johnson) if he was alright, and he kept saying, ‘I’m alright, Coach.’ He got stronger as the game went on.”

With the emotions after the game, Coach Petasek, in his first year at the helm, said he was extremely proud of his players.

“It was only our second time outside this spring,” he said. “We’ve worked hard on our fundamentals. Bay Port has an excellent program and good players. Their pitchers are throwing in the mid-80s.”

Coach Petasek said the FRCC is one of the deepest conferences in the area, but his team will use its hitting to stay near the top.

“We have a nice (pitching) rotation, too,” he said. “We don’t have that dominant pitcher who throws in the 90s like other teams might. Ashwaubenon, Bay Port, De Pere and Notre Dame Academy also have good squads.”

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