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De Pere Legion blitzes Pulaski; improves to 12-5

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

DE PERE – The De Pere Legion baseball team is picking up where it left off last season.

After winning the Class AAA state championship in 2021, De Pere is off to a 12-5 start this season after an 11-1, five-inning victory over Pulaski June 30 at Westwood Elementary School.

The Panthers – a combination of De Pere and West De Pere players – put up an eight-spot in the bottom of the first inning before adding single runs in the second, fourth and fifth.

“When you jump out to a big lead, it takes the pressure off,” De Pere Manager Dan Lukes said. “Then you can just play and relax.”

The Panthers sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning.

The first seven hitters – Bryson Webb, Austin Litts, Garrett Foth, Luke Brosig, Lucas Bartelt, Ethan Hoops and Tyas Olson – all reached base and eventually scored.

De Pere smashed seven hits in the inning, with Webb and Litts each recording two.

With runners on first and second to begin the frame, Foth had an RBI double.

Next, Brosig had a two-RBI double to make it 3-0.

After a walk and Hoops was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Olson walked, forcing in a run.

Pulaski pitcher Jonah Klingeisen finally recorded a strikeout for the first out of the inning before Carter Dugre and Litts each collected two-RBI hits to end the scoring.

Brosig led off the second with a triple and scored on the play because of a throwing error.

With the score 9-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Olson had an RBI double, scoring Hoops, who led off the frame with a single.

Pulaski got a two-out homer from Klingeisen in the top of the fifth inning before an RBI hit from Bartelt in the bottom of the inning ended the game.

Brosig had three hits, while Webb, Litts and Bartelt each collected a pair.

Litts, Brosig, Olson and Dugre each had two RBI.

Brosig also scored three runs.

Pitcher Sam Cherney went all five innings, giving up four hits and one earned run.

The righty walked four and struck out seven.

“It was nice to get (Cherney) some work,” Lukes said. “He threw one bad pitch in five innings. It was good to get another arm a quality start. We’re pretty deep on the mound.”

This season

Lukes said at this time last year, his squad wasn’t hitting the ball.

“We weren’t hitting at all,” he said, smiling. “This year, we’re hitting a little better, but there’s still room for improvement. It’s tough to compare. We have half the season left to get better.”

De Pere won its fifth state title overall last season and first since 2008 behind tournament MVP Ethan Susa, a West De Pere graduate.

The pitcher Susa, who didn’t play during the Pulaski game but coached first base, said he’ll be attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this fall, but he doesn’t think baseball is in his future.

“I might try out (at Milwaukee), but my education is my focus,” he said. “I’m satisfied with that decision.”

Susa said he feels good about this year’s squad.

“If we keep playing good defense and our bats come alive, we have a solid chance to win again,” he said.

After winning the state title last season, the Panthers then had a strong showing at the Central Plains Regional in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, finishing 3-2 in the tournament.

Lukes said he thinks his team has the makings to make another run at a state title.

“Our goal is to be playing the last day of the state tournament because then you have a chance to win it,” he said. “Is this group capable of winning again? Yes, but we have to put the work in. They are a dedicated group.”

Creighton tournament

De Pere recently returned from the Omaha Creighton Prep College World Series Classic in Nebraska, finishing 4-2 overall.

The Panthers recorded wins over Harrisburg (7-5), Omaha Creighton No. 2 (8-0) and Waconia (6-1) but then lost to Fargo Post 400 (10-7) and Grand Island (11-1).

De Pere ended the tournament with a 7-2 victory over Gretna, the defending Nebraska state champ.

“We played (almost five) solid games of baseball,” Lukes said. “I was pleased with how it went. We didn’t see too many arms below 82-83 (mph) – it was a good experience for us.”

Susa said the Nebraska tournament was an eye-opener.

“It was cool to see some really good competition,” he said. “We weren’t used to that, so it woke us up a bit. It made us realize we’ll see better teams down the road – we have to be ready for that.”

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