GRAND CHUTE — The Boyceville baseball team had one rally in it.

Just not a second.

The Bulldogs overturned an early 4-0 deficit, but a three-run fifth inning gave Stratford a 7-5 win over Boyceville in the Division 3 state semifinals on Wednesday at Fox Cities Stadium.

“I’m very proud of the way our team didn’t give up after that first inning,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “Down at state when a team’s hitting like that, that’s tough to come back from. We chipped away, got the score even. I’m just proud of the fight our guys had.

“A couple hits, couple things go our way, maybe a different story. But that’s a good team we just faced and I’m proud of the way our guys battled.”

Stratford announced its presence with four hits leading to four runs in the first inning, digging a hole Boyceville had to work hard to escape. Six consecutive batters reached base for the Tigers in the frame. Mav Licciardi turned a two-run lead into a four-run advantage with a two-RBI single late in the inning.

“It’s tough as a coach to get down 4-0, but I know that these guys’ mentality was that we still had six more innings to hit,” Roemhild said.

That mentality played itself out on the field. After falling behind 4-0, the Bulldogs’ offense kicked into gear to make a game of it. They scored three runs in the second and one in the third to tie things up at four, highlighted by RBI singles from Jaden Reisimer and Jacob Granley.

Meanwhile, Walker Retz came on to relieve starting pitcher Connor Sempf in the second inning and held the Tigers in check until the fifth.

“They were hitting Connor pretty well, his fastball and curveball, so we thought we’d change it up with a little different style of pitcher,” Roemhild said. “Walker pitched great for us coming in.”

Stratford broke things open with three runs in the fifth, with three consecutive at-bats resulting in RBIs. The damage started with a couple of walks early in the inning, and Riley Bauman drove in the go-ahead run with a double.

“They’re a great hitting team,” said Reisimer, who had two hits for the Bulldogs. “Very solid all around.”

Retz got a run back for Boyceville in the sixth with an RBI single to left field, but the Bulldogs couldn’t muster any more offense and went quietly in the seventh.

This was the Bulldogs’ first trip to state since 2000. Boyceville finished the season with a 19-4 record, and will have plenty to look forward to in the future. Only a couple of the team’s starters will be lost to graduation, and several of the Bulldogs’ key players are only sophomores.

“You always say ‘there’s always next year.’ That’s never a guarantee in baseball, so it’s something for these young guys on the team to look forward to, to know what it takes to get here and how hard it is,” Roemhild said. “We were very grateful to make it down here this year, and we know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us if we want to do that again in the future.”

Stratford 7, Boyceville 5

Boyceville 031 001 0 — 5 9 2

Stratford 400 030 X — 7 9 2

WP: Lance Heidmann (5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). LP: Walker Retz (4 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K).

Leading hitters — Boyceville: Retz 3-3 (RBI), Jaden Reisimer 2-4 (RBI), Connor Sempf 2-4, Jacob Granley 1-1 (2 RBI).

Records: Boyceville 19-4, Stratford 21-2.