If it’s bitter during the spring, the rivalry between Sheboygan North and Sheboygan South baseball players loses a touch of its potency come summertime.
That’s when the city schools’ dugout dwellers team up together on the Sheboygan Legion roster. The team has shot into the upper echelon of state Legion baseball this year, cruising into a top-10 ranking late last month and holding a strong position in its conference as the end of the regular season nears.
“Really, the only time they’re enemies is when they play each other in the spring,” coach Steve Goes said after his team cruised to a 10-2 win over Watertown on Saturday evening, noting his crosstown players shed whatever rivalry they share during the school year when the Legion season starts each summer. “So it’s a good dynamic, it’s a good group, and they play well together.”
That dynamic delivered a powerful win on Saturday, with Carter Amundsen and Aaron Peterson — North-South rivals a few months ago — handing in strong performances on offense. Amundsen, a star at South, and Peterson, a standout at North, combined for eight hits and five runs to help power Legion to the bruising victory at Wildwood Baseball Park and moving the team to a 16-9 record just weeks before the playoffs are set to begin.
“When those two guys are going right, the top of the order kind of sets the tone for the rest of the team,” Goes said. Peterson batted second in Legion’s order on Saturday, with Amundsen following third, providing some strong punch early in the team’s order.
Sheboygan held a 3-2 lead after the first inning, when Peterson, Amundsen and Cody Weis scored to earn the early advantage. Amundsen and Weis scored on a bombing double deep into left field by Austin Mork.
Amundsen and Weis scored again in a two-run third inning, and Peterson figured in an offensive spurt in the fourth inning, when he and catcher John Raff scored runs to widen Sheboygan’s lead to 7-2.
Later, in the bottom of the sixth, Amundsen scored his third run of the day. He tripled to score Tyler Zietz, and later ran in from third base after Weis batted into a groundout.
Andy Seymour popped a single to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, and later scored on a sacrifice fly off Weis’s bat. Peterson doubled in the inning and got as far as third base, but was left stranded.
“We came out of the Fourth of July break the way we wanted to,” Goes said. “… Our pitching and defense has been a constant for us all year, and now if we get the hitting going, that should help us out even more.”
Sheboygan’s pitchers delivered big-time Saturday. Starter Jared Reklaitis surrendered just two runs and four hits in six innings on the mound. Watertown looked to take control of Reklaitis’s pitches early, notching a pair of runs on three hits in the top of the first frame to take a brief 2-0 lead. But he settled down after that, holding the visitors scoreless through the next five innings before Mork took over the mound in the seventh.
Mork was solid in his first inning but dug himself into trouble in the eighth, when he loaded the bases on three walked batters with just one out on the board. He survived to finish the scoreless inning, though, striking out Watertown’s Jake Larkin before getting Keegan Lang out in a pop-up to Sheboygan’s catcher to leave all three base runners stranded.
Sheboygan entered Saturday on a three-game losing streak, but was fresh off a top-10 spot in the Legion state rankings the previous weekend. The team shared the 10th-place position with teams from Beloit and Genoa City in the ranking list released last Sunday.
The team is scheduled to host Neenah in a doubleheader today. The first game starts at noon.
“We want to get ready for regionals, which is a couple weekends from now, three weekends from now,” Goes said, noting he’s hoping his roster of sometimes-rivals will be peaking by the time the postseason gets under way. “Tomorrow we’ve got a big-league doubleheader against Neenah, and that’s going to be big for us — we control our own destiny. If we can win those two tomorrow, we’ll set up pretty much a conference championship with our last doubleheader of the year against Hortonville.”