Krause gets state revenge, but bats can’t come through in clutch

Trey Krause (right) is consoled by coach Scott Staude after the team’s final huddle after Tuesday’s state quarterfinal at Fox Cities Stadium. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

By Mike Ramczyk

GRAND CHUTE – After beating Arrowhead for their first state championship in 2016 but falling to the Warhawks the next season at state, the Burlington Demons once again faced their state nemesis Tuesday afternoon in a WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal at Fox Cities Stadium.

Trey Krause avenged last season’s state loss with six strong innings and the Demons played solid defense, but the offense couldn’t match up despite several opportunities as the Warhawks took the rubber match, 2-1.

Burlington coach Scott Staude was disappointed after the game, as he thought the Demons not only could’ve won the game, but had a good shot at winning their second state title in three years.

“To be honest, I’m disappointed because I liked the matchup today,” Staude said. “I really liked Trey against them, and I thought we put together a good defensive game plan.”

“Anybody could say this up here, but I thought we could win it all. They had a couple more breaks go their way than we did. They got a couple balls that squirted through, they made those plays on us, that ended up being two RBIs and that was the game.”

While a common sports cliché is that bounces simply don’t go a team’s way, it was literally a bounce in the fifth inning that ended up sealing the Demons’ fate.

Krause’s breaking ball is so good that a side effect is it can squirt away from the catcher, no matter how good of a block sophomore Christian Brenner puts on it.

So after the junior lefty seemed to be cruising after a second strikeout in the fifth, the ball bounced away from Brenner after strike three just enough to allow Arrowhead pitcher Jacob Johnson, who singled, to advance to second.

A seemingly meaningless play came back to bite Burlington, as the next batter, Joey Bartolone, hit a line shot to center to drive in the winning run.

“Johnson was down 0-2 and we left a curve ball up,” Staude said. “He got on base, then the wild pitch got him over. Trey had enough stuff to get the next guy. The guy (Bartolone) didn’t hit it hard. They didn’t square up a lot of balls, but they didn’t strike out a lot, and that’s the key. You put the ball in play, and you have a chance.”

Burlington got a leadoff single to start the seventh, and put runners on first and second after Krause was hit in the ankle after battling off six foul balls.

But Trent Turzenski flew out to right to end the game.

Johnson got the win, scattering five hits and striking out three while walking four in five innings.

Arrowhead’s Derek Polczynski closed the door, with two innings of one-hit baseball. While Johnson mixed more off-speed pitches, Polczynski brought heat and an effective slider.



Demons tie it up

Arrowhead rattled off three straight hits in the fourth, capped by an Alex Tanke RBI single on a slow curve to right field to take the lead, 1-0.

With a runner on third, Krause got out of it when third baseman Drew Pesick’s throw hit the dirt but was scooped nicely by Turzenski, who essentially saved a run.

In the next half-inning, the Demon bats started to figure Johnson out.

Derek Koenen singled then stole second on a heady play, hesitating before noticing nobody was at the bag and taking off.

After Michael Rozell struck out for the second out, Grant Tully hit the ball behind the covering shortstop and into left-center to score Koenen and tie it at 1-1.

The threat wasn’t over, as Krause was intentionally walked and Turzenski drew a walk. With the bases loaded, Christian Brenner grounded out to first baseman TJ Snedden, who gobbled up a tough hop for his sixth unassisted putout of the game.

It was Burlington’s best chance to tack on more runs.

“The fifth inning was key,” Staude said. “Even though we tied it up 1-1, if we win that inning and hold them back, we recapture momentum. To their credit, they came back. They have a balanced, stacked lineup.”

Krause scattered seven hits in six innings, with five strikeouts and zero walks.

It was the kind of masterful performance the Demons needed from their ace to have a chance to knock off the 24-3 Warhawks, who advanced to a Division 1 semifinal against 23-5 Janesville Craig Tuesday night.

“Games like this, you always look back at certain scenarios you wish you could change,” Krause said. “I just think I didn’t make certain pitches in certain spots.”

“I felt like I didn’t have my best stuff. I knew I needed all three pitches against Arrowhead, everything you have. I just didn’t have it the whole game, maybe only some innings.”

The Demons couldn’t come up with enough clutch hitting, as they left nine runners on base to Arrowhead’s four.

In their final high school games, Tully and Koenen each went 2-for-3.

Krause and Dalton Damon added Burlington’s other hits.


An unprecedented run

Burlington can hang its hat on three consecutive Southern Lakes titles, along with three straight state appearances, both firsts in school history.

Burlington overcame an 8-6 start this season and rallied for six straight wins to end the season and leapfrogged two teams for the conference crown.

Pesick, who caught an Arrowhead runner in a pickle between first and third for the first out of a double play in the first inning, will miss playing for the Demons.

“It’s hard on me because it’s my last baseball game, and I won’t get to play with my friends again,” Pesick said.

Pesick, Koenen and Tully along with seniors Riley Nelson, Zach Lipecki, Joe Tully and Bryce Morris saw their Demon careers end with another banner season.

It may take some time to heal the sting of this heartbreaking defeat, but the seniors enjoyed the experience.

“Being on the team since I was a sophomore and we won conference and then won state, it was a big deal to win conference this season,” Koenen said. “It meant everything since it’s our last season.”

“We wanted to win conference for our city, and we wanted to get to state for everyone, our team and our coaches,” Pesick added.

Tully said it took some time to hit their stride, but the Demons clicked during the last month.

“We started 8-6, and we didn’t know how to play with each other yet,” Grant Tully said. “Then we won 12 of our last 13, and it was a fun ride. To get here three times, it’s awesome.”

Krause said he learned a lot during the season, and the team jelled together in order to have late-season success.

For Staude, the Demons played well with some great defense Tuesday, but just couldn’t execute offensively when they needed it most.

He said the program has evolved into a winning tradition, and the kids believe they can win.

“There’s a belief in a tradition we’ve installed, and it’s rolling right now,” Staude said. “The kids believe they can win, they really do. Quite frankly, if they didn’t think that way, it would be more disappointing. You want to be the best out there.”