Luke Hansel finishes his windup during a Southern Lakes Conference contest with visiting Delavan-Darien on April 25. Hansel, who picked up the win, tossed five scoreless innings for the Broncos (Jason Arndt/Southern Lakes Newspapers).

Baseball strings together convincing wins

By Tim Wester

The Union Grove baseball team may be the only group of Wisconsinites that have enjoyed the month of April.

The Broncos dodged cold temperatures and snowflakes on numerous occasions to win nine straight games by a combined score of 80-18.

Union Grove coach Nathan Meyer’s team put the finishing touches on the impressive month by dismantling Burlington Catholic Central 11-1 and Delavan-Darien 11-0 last week.

“We definitely have played good baseball the last couple of weeks,” said Meyer, whose team won five of their last six games by double digits. “We’ve been patient at the plate, taking walks, and putting the ball in play. It’s a big improvement since the start of the year when we were striking out a lot at the plate.”

The Broncos used the same winning offensive ingredients to score 11 runs in the first two innings to thump Catholic Central Friday, April 26.

Mitch Gibson slugged a three-run double, while TJ Manteufel belted a home run, and Owen Erickson, Mike Jocius, Nick Williams, and Cody Horon each drove in a run apiece to lead the onslaught.

“We were able to play a lot of people and managed to get the four pitchers that were scheduled to pitch in this game and then the game that was postponed the next day innings,” Meyer said. “It was good that our pitchers got their work in.”

Pitchers just getting their work in has been somewhat challenging since the Broncos have only played more than five innings once in their last six games due to slaughter rule.

“It’s a nice problem to have,” Meyer said. “But we have really good pitching coaches that help make sure our pitchers are getting the work in.”

Dylan Mutchie got the win against Catholic Central, striking out two in one inning of work. Collin Long led the relievers with six strikeouts in two innings while Cameron Drier and Matt Keller allowed just one run combined in two innings.

“Collin threw really well and was dealing,” Meyer said. “He was supposed to pitch Saturday, but with the snow coming we got him two innings on Friday.”

Luke Hansel did solo work on the mound the previous day against Delavan-Darien. The senior hurler struck out nine Comets in five innings to earn the victory.

Senior catcher Jack Clark went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Horon, Gibson, Jocius each drove in a run to lead the offense.

“The last eight or nine games, Cody has really come along nicely,” Meyer said. “It’s his first year on varsity, but he’s been a patient hitter.

“And Clark has been a Swiss army knife willing to play anywhere we’ve asked,” he added.

“Since I’ve coached him, he’s played every position but first base. Now we’ve moved him to catcher, and he’s done very well. You don’t see a lot of athletic players like that around in today’s game.”

The surging Broncos will get be tested Saturday when they travel to Kenosha Tremper. After that, they return home to host Lake Geneva Badger Tuesday.

“You want to play quality teams like Kenosha Tremper,” Meyer said. “It will be a good test to see how we stack up.”