Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Shut ‘em down, boys
Pitchers fire 17 scoreless innings

by Mike Ramczyk

May 03, 2012

Last week, the Badger baseball squad didn’t just beat its three opponents.

The Badgers downright annihilated them.

Badger pitchers tossed 17 straight scoreless innings, and the Badgers outscored their foes 30-0 in three resounding victories.

The local boys improved to 7-4 overall and 4-1 in conference with a win over nonconference opponent Racine Park and two over Southern Lakes rival Elkhorn.

What’s perhaps most impressive is that Badger got complete game victories from three different pitchers. The outstanding week lowered the team’s earned-run average to 3.27. In the Southern Lakes Conference, the team ERA is a microscopic 1.5.

“The pitching has been awesome,” Badger coach Aaron Zweifel said. “And it’s not just one or two guys. We haven’t been walking guys, and we have a little more composure on the mound. A lot of guys got extra innings in the summer and fall. In high school, if you’re not throwing 85 or higher, you’re not going to blow it by people. Our guys are developing secondary pitches. Our defense and pitching have been good. It’s been fun so far.”

On Friday at home, it was junior ace Colton Andresen’s turn to dazzle on the mound. He went seven strong innings, striking out six and scattering five hits as Badger shut out Racine Park, 7-0. The Panthers were 8-3 entering the game.

“Park will make some noise,” Zweifel said. “We told the guys these are the games when you can make a name for yourselves. They came out with so much fire. We are finally getting the big hits when we need them.”

Badger jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first. Peter Krien smacked an RBI single in the frame, and Trent Bobula added an RBI triple with two outs to score Krien.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Badger pulled away with a four spot to take a 7-0 lead. Mitch Jensen led off the inning with single and took second base on a Park miscue. Jonah Zeinert then doubled in Jensen. Two batters later, an Ian Weber RBI double made it 5-0. Andresen sent Bobula home with a sacrifice fly, and Weber scored Badger’s final run on an error.

Jensen led the Badgers with two hits. Zweifel said the team has improved its approach at the plate.

“In the beginning of the season, we had a lot of guys not attacking at the plate,” he said. “Now guys are getting back into the groove. We are drawing walks and taking extra bases. Guys are taking extra batting practice. They are working hard in practice.”

As a team, the Badgers have a whopping .400 on-base percentage. Jensen has been tearing the cover off the ball with a .425 batting average. Bobula is the team’s second-leading hitter with a .313 average. Overall, the Badgers have a solid .266 batting average.

On the mound, Badger pitchers have 70 strikeouts in 66 innings while allowing only 24 earned runs. Andresen leads the club with a 3-1 record and a 1.73 ERA. The Badgers boast a deep pitching staff, as Andresen, Jason Marquez, Eric Skipper and Travis Stahulak have all notched victories.

Badger will try to make it continue its strong play Thursday at home against Delavan-Darien.

“They’re tough,” Zweifel said of Delavan. “They swept Waterford. We can’t take them lightly. We know people will score on us, but we just have to control what we do. We have to keep moving runners over with bunts and have consistency in the field defensively.”

Badger 10, Elkhorn 0 (five innings)

Last Thursday at Badger, Travis Stahulak painted a two-hit masterpiece for the shutout victory in his first start of the season.

“He’s a short guy, but he can throw hard,” Zweifel said of Stahulak. “He mixes his change and curve well. He’s been a real surprise for me. He’s been awesome. He’s tough to hit.”

Stahulak struck out six and walked five in five innings.

Badger jumped out to a 9-0 lead after three innings. Zweifel said it was important for Badger to lay the hammer down right away.

“It’s a tough situation for Elkhorn,” Zweifel said. “They had their top four pitchers decide not to play this year.”

In the four-run fourth, Eric Skipper had the big blow, a two-run triple. Zeinert and Bobula had back-to-back hits in the frame.

In the fifth inning, Badger scored five runs on four hits from Marquez, Stahulak, Krien and Bobula. Badger also snatched four bases in the frame.

“We put the ball in play and moved runners over,” Zweifel said. “Kids are really buying in. It keeps the pressure on the defense.”

Andresen’s RBI single in the fifth put the icing on the cake for Badger.

Bobula and Andresen each led the way with two hits. Marquez added a hit and three RBIs.

Badger 13, Elkhorn 0 (five innings)

On April 24, the shutout parade began at Elkhorn behind the right arm of Skipper, who tossed a one-hitter with two strikeouts and three walks.

Skipper also helped his own cause at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

Badger shot out of the gates, scoring nine runs on only four hits in the first inning. The local boys took advantage of three Elkhorn errors in the first. Marquez, Jensen, Zeinert and Krien all had hits in the first.

“We walked 10 times, and we hit when we needed it,” Zweifel said.

Jensen led the Badgers with two hits including three RBIs.