Regional Champion Bulldogs Fall To Zephyrs in SectionalIssue Date: June 6, 2019
Bulldogs Fall to Zephyrs
in Sectional Semi
The Peshtigo Bulldogs' great season came to an end Tuesday at sectionals with a 9-2 loss at the hands of St. Mary Catholic.
The two teams met in Crandon for a trip to the sectional final, but it wasn't meant to be for the Bulldogs. St. Mary scored two runs in the first inning, just as Bonduel did against Peshtigo in the regional championship.
The Zephyrs added one more in the third inning and two more in the fifth. Peshtigo scored two of its own in the fifth, but a four-run sixth inning put the proverbial nail in the Bulldog coffin. Peshtigo committed three of its six errors in that sixth inning, all coming right in a row.
St. Mary Catholic has state experience and it showed on Tuesday, Peshtigo coach Neal Henrigillis said.
"They execute and they play their brand of baseball and their brand of baseball is to put the pressure on the defense," he said. "Our pitchers Darren Dionne and Nick Nielson did a pretty good job of throwing strikes and they hit a handful of balls really hard, but what they always do is put that pressure on and our guys were actually in the right positions, but we just didn't execute."
It was Peshtigo's first time at sectionals since 2011.
"We've been talking about it for the last week, we said today would be the most mentally tough game you're ever going to play, and it was. It just was," Henrigillis said. "For a team like us, we haven't been to sectionals since 2011, the moment was big, the moment was tough for us. Our guys kept competing, we kept competing the whole way through and I'm really proud of them for that but just unfortunately, we didn't quite execute. A team like that you can't give extra outs to."
Despite the loss, Peshtigo had a good season. The Bulldogs won double-digit games, the Packerland Conference title and a regional championship.
"It's really unfortunate, because I'm sitting there, I'm talking to a bunch of 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids with long faces and they're sad because their season just ended, but I told them "only four teams end with a win.' The state champions are the only teams that end on a win, so almost every single team ends with a loss," Henrigillis said. "It's tough to reflect on it immediately after the game, but before the season we put out the goal of winning conference and we did that, we put out the goal of winning the regional and we did that. Once you get to sectionals, it's a crapshoot. On a different day, I'd like another shot at St. Mary Catholic because on a different day, our team is good enough to beat them. This was a great season."
The Bulldogs will be back. They lose some big contributors, including Dionne, arguably the team's top arm. He is headed to Ripon College, where he'll join the baseball team. Two-time all-conference player Brandon Eick, pitcher and utility man Nolan Lemke, leadoff hitter Travis Plym and reserves Jared Madsen and Jared Potkay.
On the flip side, Nielson returns as do a handful of other starters.
"The only way to get experience is through experience," Henrigillis said.
Nielson took the loss Tuesday, allowing three runs, all unearned, on four hits and five walks, striking out four.
Dionne allowed six runs, though only two were earned. He allowed six hits and one walk, striking out three.
Nielson had two hits in the game, the Bulldogs' only two-hit game. Plym and Zack Wallin scored runs.
Bulldogs Beat Bears in
WIAA D3 Regional
The Peshtigo Bulldogs' baseball team did a lot this season: won a lot of close games, topped the Packerland Conference and made it to the regional championship. Winning that regional championship tops it all.
The Bulldogs did just that against the Bonduel Bears by a 5-3 scoreline on Wednesday, though it looked bleak early on.
Peshtigo coach Neal Henrigillis took a page out of the Major League Baseball playbook, going with an opener in the game in an effort to get Darren Dionne to the end of the game.
Brody Heroux got the start on the mound for Peshtigo but things didn't exactly go according to plan, with Dionne forced into the game after just 1/3 of an inning.
Dionne walked in a run before getting an out to end the inning down 2-0. Dionne didn't know when he would enter the game, but he just had to be ready.
He didn't expect it to be in the first inning "but it happened and we just had to adjust to it."
Dionne was solid from there on out. He worked out of a few situations with runners in scoring position, but he finished the game with 6 1/3 innings, one hit and three walks, striking out six. He was up against his pitch count and forced to leave the game with two outs recorded in the seventh inning. Heroux returned to the mound to get the final out and record a rare save and start in the same game.
Peshtigo got one in the third from a Brandon Eick triple to score Nick Nielson. In the fifth, Zack Wallin started the inning by getting hit by a pitch. Leadoff hitter Travis Plym walked and Nielson was hit by a pitch as well. Peshtigo has found ways to get on base all season.
"I've got to get one somehow," Nielson said. "Walk, get hit by a pitch, get a single, turn it into a double, steal second, get into scoring position. A hit to the outfield scores you."
In this case, that hit looked like it might not come. Eick walked to give Peshtigo a run with the team's cleanup hitter Heroux coming to the plate and no outs.. He flew out, as did Nolan Lemke. That brought to the plate Mitch Peters, a junior who has been through two ACL surgeries that have hampered his baseball output. He got that hit to bring Nielson and Plym home.
Henrigillis said he was "really proud and glad" that Peters got the job done.
"You could feel this place, we had a good crowd here, finally feeling like baseball weather. The whole place was ready to burst," he said. "I could not be happier for Mitch Peters. Mitch Peters is one of the nicest kids you'll ever meet."
Dionne singled and scored in the sixth on a Plym sac fly to give himself some breathing room and the Bulldogs got the regional championship win in Dionne's senior season. For him and others, it has been a long time coming. He has started almost 10 playoff games since his freshman year, when he made the varsity team under coach Pat Robbins.
"It's insane," Dionne said. "I never thought we'd be winning regionals my senior year, so it's a great feeling right now."
Peters and Jake Gordon had two hits apiece for Peshtigo, with Peters' two RBIs. Nielson had a hit and two runs.
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