Home runs, pitching fuel domination

Zach Campbell, the 2017 SLN All-Area Player of the Year, gray-shirted his freshman season for UW-Whitewater. He has regained some control on the pitching mound and is tearing it up at the plate for the Burlington Barons, who are off to a 6-0 start to the summer. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk


The incorporation of the long ball along with solid pitching and defense have helped the Burlington Rotary Barons, a local amateur hardball baseball team consisting of area talent, to jump out to a 6-0 record and first place in the Land O’Lakes.

Player-manager Ryan Hoffman’s squad, which plays its home games at Beaumont Field in Burlington and features local talent that can live up to 15 miles away, has seven home runs in five games.

Hoffman had one of the bombs last Friday in a 19-6 shellacking of visiting Ixonia.

Hoffman went 3-for-5 with five RBIs, and 2017 Burlington High School graduate and current UW-Whitewater player Zach Campbell, the 2017 Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area Player of the Year, added four hits and three RBIs.

Burlington is cooking with some familiar faces and some new talent.

For Hoffman, who has played for the Barons for two decades, it’s a good start.

“As usual for our team, the pitching and defense have been very good so far this year,” Hoffman said. “Something new is the home run. I think that’s a sign of our hitters maturing a little bit.”

Longtime starter and Burlington High School assistant baseball coach Karl Richter, a crafty right-hander, is back on the mound for his 20th season, and he’s joined by the lefty Campbell and righty Cal Tully, both members of the 2016 Burlington Demons state baseball title team.

New to the pitching staff is recent first team all-conference Wilmot pitcher Kyle Gendron, who was perhaps the best pitcher in a strong Southern Lakes Conference this past spring.

“Zach had a greyshirt season at UW-Whitewater and seems to have found his command after struggling last summer,” Hoffman said. “Karl is off to a good start, and Cal is very reliable out of the bullpen when we need him in a pinch.”

“It looks like Kyle can take over the spot in the top of the rotation vacated by the loss of Rex Morrow. He has a great arm and great command of the strike zone.”

Hoffman said recent Demon graduates Riley Nelson and Drew Pesick will help out of the bullpen and provide pitching depth.

After Nelson struggled early against Ixonia, Tully showed the some of the magic he provided on the mound in the 2016 state championship game.

Tully scattered five hits in 4-2/3 innings and struck out six with no earned runs to pick up the win.

Dylan Friend added two hits and three RBIs, while Tanner Strommen added a two-run double.

On the infield, Hoffman, Paul Archambault and Taylor Meseberg are longtime Barons, and Tully, Bryan Sturdevant and Tanner Strommen are back for their second seasons.

Sturdevant, who just finished his sophomore season playing for UW-Whitewater and was an all-state second baseman for the 2016 champion Demons, tied for the league lead in home runs with four last year and already has three in five games this season.

“Brian is probably our most dangerous hitter, and we look to him to drive in some runs,” Hoffman said.

Friend and Campbell, who will hit in the leadoff spot, provide defense and offensive presence in the outfield.

“We are blessed with two left-handed hitting outfielders that are just as good on defense as they are at the plate,” Hoffman said.

New to the Barons in 2018 are 2017 Waterford Union High School graduate Nick Dugandzic, who has taken over regular catching duties, UW-Parkside sophomore Mike Pilizzi, a Kenosha Bradford grad, Burlington senior Tucker Strommen and 2016 BHS grad Derek Morrow.

According to Hoffman, Dugandzic is one of the team’s most consistent hitters, and Pilizzi can play both infield positions up the middle and swings the bat well.

After a year off baseball, Morrow, who was on the 2016 state title team, is very excited to be back on the field and provides solid defense in the outfield and great speed on the bases, Hoffman added.

Currently, the Waterford Rivermen are in second place at 3-0 behind the 5-0 Barons.

The East Troy Express are in third at 3-1.


Burlington 14, Racine 1

The Barons continued their onslaught Wednesday night at Beaumont Field in a game where Gendron showed his immense potential for success at the college level.

The Winona State recruit and former Wilmot Panther only needed 77 pitches in six innings and struck out seven with five hits and no walks as the home team cruised to victory.

Friend clobbered the team’s eighth home run of the season, and Gendron and Campbell each added three hits.

Campbell totaled four RBIs.

Dugandzic, batting in the No. 2 spot, went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.


Crossover Day Saturday

Beaumont Field in Burlington will host the Burlington Barons in the first ever Land O’Lakes Crossover Day, a five-game event where teams from the south will host a team from the north.

All five games will be played at Beaumont. Concessions including food and beer will be available, and admission is free. A collection will be taken during each game to help off-set umpire costs.


Saturday, June 23, Beaumont Field, Burlington
10 a.m. – Ixonia vs. Waterford
12:30 – Milwaukee vs. Burlington
3 – Merton vs. East Troy
5:30 – Dousman vs. Genessee
8 – Rome vs. Racine