CHIPPEWA FALLS — It was a day 19 years in the making.
And the Boyceville Bulldogs made sure it was as memorable as could be.
Boyceville punched its ticket to the baseball state tournament for the first time since 2000 with an emphatic 13-2 win over Cumberland in five innings in the Division 3 sectional finals on Tuesday at Casper Park.
“It’s been 19 years since the program’s had success like this,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “I saw a lot of the former players from that team here to support us. I’ve got nothing but text messages, Facebook messages, phone calls, emails throughout since the playoffs have started about what we can do and the opportunity ahead of us.
“And these guys have believed in it the whole way.”
Their faith was rewarded on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs were strong in all facets in beating Cumberland for the sectional title. They bashed 13 hits at the plate, with eight starters getting a hit, and Walker Retz held the Beavers to two hits in a five-inning complete game on the mound. The defense was flawless too.
“We’ve put all kinds of hard work, all kinds of dedication into the season,” Bulldogs first baseman Trevor Hollister said. “Our pitching is what keeps us in these games, and then our defense just has to back it up behind them. We’ve done that all year. We deserve to be here.”
Boyceville ran out to a 6-0 lead through the top of the third inning, which was more than enough support for Retz. The sophomore pitcher struck out six in his complete game.
“Right away my two-seam (was working),” Retz said. “I was struggling with my offspeed, but it came back to me toward the end of the game.”
Cumberland fought back with two runs in the bottom of the third, but Boyceville just kept pounding away. The Bulldogs scored at least one run in all five innings.
The Bulldogs put up six runs in the top of the fifth to pull away for good. A grand slam over the left field fence by catcher Trett Joles served as the exclamation point on the team’s first sectional title in nearly two decades.
“It felt pretty good,” Joles said of the homer. “The first two pitches (of the at-bat) were really high curveballs, but that last one I just kind of sat back on it and it just kind of happened. Just put the bat on the ball.”
Boyceville defeated Neillsville 2-0 earlier in the day to advance to the sectional final. Connor Sempf was the man of the hour, pitching a complete game shutout and holding the Warriors to two hits.
“(Our pitchers) have been the reason that we’ve been here. Their pitching has been unbelievable,” Roemhild said.
Joles and Ira Bialzik drove in the only runs for the Bulldogs in the semifinals.
The Bulldogs will face Stratford in the Division 3 state semifinals at 1 p.m. on June 12 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.
Cumberland reached the sectional final with a 6-2 win over Bloomer in the first game of the day. The Beavers got a near-complete game from Reid Olson, who went 6.2 innings and allowed just one earned run.
Bloomer outhit Cumberland in that game 8-5, but made some untimely outs on the base paths that killed momentum a few times in the contest.
“We ran ourselves out of two innings,” Bloomer coach AJ Gehrmann said. “We got plenty of guys on base, but just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed to.”
The future appears to be bright for Bloomer though, with only two seniors graduating.
“The seniors are great kids and great leaders,” Gehrmann said. “We have a lot of young kids, and the experience is invaluable. Just getting in these games, playing in big games, playing big moments. ... We have lofty expectations for the guys going forward.”
Boyceville 13, Cumberland 2
Boyceville 123 16 — 13 13 0
Cumberland 002 00 — 2 2 2
WP: Walker Retz (5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 K, 4 BB). LP: Wyatt Tift (4.1 IP, 10 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 6 K, 4 BB).
Leading hitters — Boyceville: Trevor Hollister 4-4 (2B, 2 RBI), Trett Joles 1-1 (HR, 4 RBI), Brenden Sempf 2-3 (RBI), Ira Bialzik 2-3 (2 RBI).
Records: Boyceville: 19-3, Cumberland 18-10.
Boyceville 2, Neillsville 0
Neillsville 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Boyceville 110 000 X — 2 2 0
WP: Connor Sempf (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 K, 2 BB). LP: Braden Trunkel (2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 K, 3 BB).
Leading hitters — Boyceville: Trett Joles 1-3 (RBI).
Cumberland 6, Bloomer 2
Cumberland 300 021 0 — 6 5 2
Bloomer 100 001 0 — 2 8 5
WP: Reid Olson (6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 K, 4 BB). LP: Cole Schwab (5 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 7 K, 3 BB).
Leading hitters — Cumberland: Jack Martens 1-3 (2 RBI), Travis Runberg 1-2 (2 RBI). Bloomer: Carter Rubenzer 3-3 (2 2B).
Records: Bloomer 13-11.