WIAA SECTIONAL BASEBALL: (2) Burlington 6, (1) Kenosha Tremper 3

Turzenski starts, Krause finishes as Demons capture 3rd straight sectional championship

Trent Turzenski raises his arms in victory, as teammates pile underneath to celebrate Tuesday’s sectional final victory and state berth at Kenosha Tremper High School. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk


How’s this for coaching?

The nails were bitten shorter, and the gray hairs were beginning to stand up for the lawn-chair sporting Burlington baseball fan base Tuesday afternoon at Kenosha Tremper High School.

After all, starting pitcher Trent Turzenski, a junior right-hander, was starting to slow down in the sixth inning, already having given up three earned runs and allowing two more ducks on the pond with the tying duck, probably the father, at the plate representing the tying run and sudden death after a mostly flawless 6-0 Burlington lead.

That’s when Demon coach Scott Staude worked his fun-loving, enthusiastic magic like only he could.

“Coach came out and tried to calm me down and asked me my favorite color,” Turzenski said. “I had to say orange, ‘Demon Orange.’ I just went back to what I’ve been doing the whole game. I threw him a two-seam fastball, and he popped it into right.”

It’s that kind of laid-back, light-hearted distraction that fuels the 2018 Demons and tends to de-cloud all the fog surrounding the magnitude of a sectional final, especially for a teenager.

Turzenski got out of it, then Trey Krause slammed the door shut, only facing three batters to end the game a mere four hours after starting and throwing 80 pitches in the previous game, held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the same place.

Burlington’s 3-0 lead held up and buoyed to 5-0 the next inning as the Demons beat the top-seeded and home Tremper Trojans, 6-3.

Tuesday’s D1 state quarterfinal against Arrowhead will mark the third straight state appearance for the Demons (20-7), who won it all in 2016.

Tremper finished its season 21-5.

Turzenski gritted his way to six strong innings, where he scattered seven hits, struck out four and allowed three earned runs.

Burlington hasn’t lost since May 22, a one-run walk-off home run to Catholic Memorial.

They have won six straight and 12 of 13.


Krause fuels up for marathon day

Krause was a warrior, staying fresh and ready to go thanks to two Spicy Italian Subway subs, four cookies and loads of water.

“He’s just outstanding,” said Tremper head coach John Matera. “He is as good a high school pitcher as you’ll see. He limits free bases, he limits mistakes, and he’s in control at all times out there.”

“It’s one of the reasons they’re a three-time state qualifier. They’ve been able to have quality arms consistently produce, and as a whole defensive unit, they don’t make a lot of mistakes. You have to earn what you get from them.”

For Krause, who struck out the first batter he faced in the seventh before walking the next guy only to pick him off between first and second, it was a strange set of circumstances.

“Trent started really well, and we were solid all-around,” Krause said. “Timely hitting, good pitching and ‘Lumpy’ (catcher Christian Brenner) was battling all day, blocking everything.”

“I’ve never had that experience, starting the game and then coming back two hours later after eating two Subway subs and four cookies. It was weird, I’ve never really done that. I had some juice left.”

Krause’s previous quote may be the understatement of the season.

Despite five strong, grueling innings in a bright, beating sun in the sectional semifinal, Krause’s adrenaline kicked in, and his stuff looked deadlier than ever.

A classic 12-to-6, devastating curve ball struck out the first Tremper swinging, and then Krause yielded a walk.

But like he’s done all year, Krause read the runner and tossed to Turzenski at first base. A rundown ensued, and the Trojans were suddenly one out from extinction.

The next batter, a lefty, had no chance against the crafty southpaw, who bent a wicked curve that nose-dived outside and off the plate, leading to a flailing swing and miss.

“He is special,” Staude said of Krause. “His adrenaline was going. He’s been around the program since he was born. I know he wants to be the best Demon to ever play. He has characteristics that you can’t teach. His pick off slammed any hope they had and allowed him to finish.”


Demons pull away

Turzenski was electric all game, and the teams were deadlocked 1-1 through two innings.

Brenner’s two-run double gave the Demons a nice cushion in the third, before Burlington continued its offensive onslaught in the fourth.

Riley Palmquist got on base and stole second, then left-handed batting Michael Rozell moved him to third with an opposite-field single.

Then, Grant Tully roped a liner to the left-center gap to extend the lead to 4-1, and Krause followed with a shot to right to open it up to 5-1.

Turzenski got into the act in the sixth, plating Tully with another solid single, and the 6-0 start held up despite a scary bottom of the sixth.

With two on and two out, Turzenski induced a sinking liner to left field, where Derek Koenen’s eyes couldn’t see through the blinding sun.

So he decided to dive, though he admitted he couldn’t really see the ball. The difficult catch ended a dangerous scoring threat for Tremper.

“I shouldn’t have dove for that, I couldn’t see it, but I had to,” Koenen said.

Krause finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and Rozell, Turzenski, Brenner, Tucker Strommen and Palmquist each had a hit.


State dreams

So why can the Demons win state?

“Trent and Trey are amazing pitchers,” Joe Tully said. “They’re a big reason why we’re winning.”

For Tully, experience will help.

“We believe,” he said. “We’ve been there before, we know we can do it.”

It will be the rubber match between Arrowhead and Burlington. The Demons beat the Warhawks, 6-4, for the 2016 state title, while Arrowhead run-ruled the Demons early in a 2017 quarterfinal.

This year’s version, a 1 p.m. first pitch at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, is the rubber match, and Staude will have the boys ready.

“It’s neat to see a team gel and come together,” Staude said. “We’ve got natural leaders. We have silent leaders, like the seniors that don’t play a lot. And younger players are leaders. They are looking to help out, and they care.”

“Our coaches are already thinking about state. It’s a different feel than the others, because of the climb and the struggle, and to get everything together and fire on all cylinders at the end. I’m really proud of our seniors, going to state three years in a row.”

Staude said the Demons will head to Appleton Monday, when they’ll have a practice and a team dinner.


Burlington 11, Kenosha Bradford 1

Krause pitched like the ace he is, and the Burlington bats eventually erupted in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Tuesday at Kenosha Tremper’s Alan Smith Field.

Krause utilized his curve ball to silence sixth-seeded Kenosha Bradford’s bats, and some shoddy defense helped provide the spark the Demons needed in the fourth.

While Dalton Damon, Derek Koenen and Michael Rozell came through with hits leading to runs, Bradford suffered a couple errant throws, and before anyone could blink, Burlington plated four runs to go up 5-1 and finished the Red Devils off in the fifth to cruise to an 11-1, run-rule rout.

Trent Turzenski, who went 4-for-4, opened the fifth with a double just inside the bag down the right-field line, and he finished the inning with a bases-loaded single to left to walk off for the win.

“Trey was really good, but it was tough for him to get a rhythm,” Staude said. “His pitch count got up a little bit, but his curve ball was effective.”

Staude said his guys had really good approaches at the plate with a lot of balls hit up the middle.

He said the Demons are playing with confidence and are loose.

“It’s neat to see a game like this where everyone contributes in a special way,” he added.

“These guys want to be part of the tradition. They want to compete. We’ll see. We had a couple mistakes today, and the next guy picked him up. Sometimes that can cost you a playoff game, it didn’t today.”

Rozell, Damon and Palmquist each collected two hits.

Krause allowed five hits, one run and struck out six in five innings.