SHELL LAKE — The stage was set perfectly.
Boyceville and Webster were the top two ranked teams in Division 4 all year long, and looked the part in the postseason. They’d dominated the competition and got a long-awaited matchup in the sectional finals with a trip to state on the line.
Each dugout was sending a Division I recruit onto the mound and fielding a lineup stacked with talent. Finally, the two — and the rest of the state — would learn who the top dog was in this neck of the woods.
That distinction, fittingly, lies with the Bulldogs. They made that abundantly clear on Tuesday.
Boyceville romped past the defending state champion Tigers, giving Webster its first loss of the season in a resounding 14-0 victory to return to the state tournament for the second consecutive season.
“You couldn’t ask for another ending,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “If you would have told me that in a sectional championship game that we were going to go up against No. 1 Webster and win 14-0, I wouldn’t have believed you. But then again, I can’t put anything past these guys because when they put their mind to something, there’s no holding them back.”
Boyceville will play in the Division 4 state semifinals on Monday at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute. The Bulldogs’ opponent will be revealed after the state-qualifying teams are re-seeded. The state championship will be played on Monday evening.
Tuesday’s sectional final had all the makings of a classic on paper. Webster was ranked No. 1 in the final Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association state poll of the season, while Boyceville was No. 2. Boyceville’s Walker Retz, a University of St. Thomas commit, was squaring off with Webster’s Owen Washburn — a South Carolina recruit and the son of former major leaguer Jarrod Washburn — on the mound.
Instead, the Bulldogs gave the two-time defending state champion its most lopsided defeat in more than five years.
Retz won the battle of future Division I arms. He pitched a complete game four-hitter with eight strikeouts. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ deep lineup had no trouble against Washburn, whose fastball can touch 90 mph.
Boyceville (19-1) broke the game open with a nine-run third inning, scoring all nine runs with two outs. Nine consecutive players reached base safely as the floodgates opened.
The Bulldogs hit three RBI doubles in the frame. Ira Bialzik, Trevor Hollister and Jacob Granley all hit run-scoring two-baggers, and three others added RBI singles.
“We heard a lot of talk, but we’ve been preparing for this for the past few weeks,” Bulldogs catcher Trett Joles said. “We had a game plan going in there, knowing we needed to hit him, and that’s what we did. That’s how we beat them.”
It was a dream inning for the Bulldogs and a nightmare for the Tigers (22-1). By the time it was finished, Retz almost had to warm back up after being off the mound so long.
“I’d love to say (it made me more comfortable), but really I felt like I had to re-warm up out there,” he said. “But I love nine-run innings, so I’ll take that even if it means I have to re-warm up.”
The Bulldogs led 10-0 after three innings and the Tigers never recovered. Boyceville bashed 13 hits and played clean defense, making for a memorable day at the ball park.
“We didn’t know what to expect coming in here,” Retz said. “But it feels really good. I feel like we deserve it. We put in the work in the offseason and here we are.”
Earlier in the day, Boyceville reached the sectional final with a 17-3 win over Independence/Gilmanton.
With 31 runs across two games, the Bulldogs’ star-studded lineup ensured no challenge would be good enough to take them down.
“These guys just have confidence,” Roemhild said. “We knew that we were the underlooked team coming into this game. We had to go up against Independence/Gilmanton, and then they were hoping that Webster was going to be there in the championship game. The work that they put in this year was proven on the field here.”
Five players had two hits for Boyceville against Webster, and eight starters had at least one knock. Hollister drove in three runs, and Joles, Retz and Dawson McRoberts added two RBIs each.
The Bulldogs went to state in Division 3 in 2019, falling in the semifinals. They’re likely to receive the No. 1 seed in the Division 4 field, and will look to close out the season the way every team wants to: by hoisting the gold trophy at Fox Cities Stadium.
“I don’t know who we play, I don’t know when we play, but we’re going to be ready,” Joles said. “I can guarantee you that.”
Boyceville 14, Webster 0
Webster 000 00 — 0 4 2
Boyceville 109 4X — 14 13 0
WP: Walker Retz (5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 8 K, 2 BB). LP: Owen Washburn (3 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 6 K, 3 BB). Leading hitters: Boyceville: Trevor Hollister 2-4 (2B, 3 RBI), Trett Joles 2-3 (2B, 2 RBI), Retz 2-2 (2B, 2 RBI), Dawson McRoberts 2-2 (2 RBI), Ira Bialzik 2-2 (2B, RBI).