Redbirds pound out 18 hits in regional final victory
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – Fueled by a two-run homer by Javin Gauthier in the top of the first inning, the De Pere Redbirds baseball team never looked back in its Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 regional final victory June 2 against Appleton North.
The No. 5-seeded Redbirds pounded out 18 hits en route to a 12-3 shellacking of No. 4 North.
With the win, De Pere advanced to sectionals Tuesday, June 7, against Kimberly (a 6-2 winner over West De Pere) at 1 p.m. at Bay Port High School.
The winner of that game will play at 7 p.m. later that night against the winner of Bay Port/Hortonville, who play in the other sectional semifinal game at 4 p.m.
De Pere Head Coach Bob Van Rens said his team seems to be snapping out of its recent hitting slump.
“What a great victory,” he said. “We went 2-4 in the middle of the season – we couldn’t hit. We kept working, and it’s coming back together at the right time.”
Van Rens said he didn’t expect such a lopsided game.
“North has four good pitchers, so I anticipated a tight game,” he said. “Our guys came to hit.”
Gauthier’s first-inning blast to right-center, with a stiff breeze blowing out, came with two outs.
A batter before, pitcher Quinn Falish drilled a triple to keep the inning alive.
“We kept on the gas and kept going,” Gauthier said. “(My homer) was on a 3-2 count. I fouled a few off and got a fastball middle in and drove it.”
After Gauthier’s big hit, Luke Brosig, who doubled, was driven in by an Ethan Hoops single for a 3-0 lead.
Falish, who only gave up one hit through four innings, cruised early on.
The Redbirds added three more runs in the third inning on an RBI double from Hoops and a two-run double by Bryan Gerbers.
De Pere made it 10-0 in the fourth inning on RBI hits from Gauthier, Brosig and Gerbers.
It looked like the Redbirds were going to record a five-inning win via the 10-run rule, but the Lightning scratched out a single run in the bottom of the inning before getting two more in the sixth.
“It would have been nice to save our pitchers some pitches,” Van Rens said. “When we didn’t get the 10-run rule, we lost some energy. It was a teachable moment. In the playoffs, no lead is safe.”
In the seventh inning, Gauthier drove another deep ball to right for an RBI but only ended up at first base.
Immediately after the play, Van Rens pulled his sophomore third baseman from the game.
“That one is on me,” Gauthier said. “I apologized to my teammates, but that shouldn’t happen. I got a little too cocky thinking I hit another home run and didn’t run hard to first.”
Catcher Garrett Foth and Brosig each had four hits, while Gerbers and Gauthier had three apiece.