DENMARK – Riley Pelischek knew he was in for a long day.
The Denmark senior left-hander had just delivered 11 pitches in giving up a lead-off walk to West De Pere senior Sam DeRuyter to begin Tuesday’s clash between the last two undefeated teams in Bay Conference play.
DeRuyter would steal second base and score on a wild pitch by Pelischek, who recovered nicely to deliver a real gem of a performance on the mound for the Vikings.
Pelischek fired a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts and retired the last 11 batters he faced to help Denmark remain undefeated with a 2-1 victory.
The University of North Dakota recruit threw 120 pitches overall. Some of his bigger ones came after he issued back-to-back walks with one out in the fourth inning and allowed the runners to advance to second and third on a wild pitch.
Pelischek responded with back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam with his team clinging to a 2-1 lead.
“I just battled,” Pelischek said. “I trust all my pitches. I had my change-up working better than usual today, which helped. I just trusted myself, trusted all my teammates that made all the plays that they needed to in the field, and we came out on top.”
Denmark (15-0 overall, 7-0 Bay) and West De Pere (12-4, 9-1) are not just two of the top teams in the area, but two of the best in the state.
The Vikings are the top-ranked Division 2 team in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association state poll and are No. 4 in the Prep Baseball Report’s Power 25 rankings for the state.
The Phantoms are No. 9 in D1 of the WBCA poll and No. 12 in the Power 25.
Tuesday marked the first of two meetings in three days between the squads.
Denmark knew runs were going to be hard to come by against West De Pere ace Brendan Meissner.
The Illinois recruit made four strikeouts and allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks in taking the complete-game loss. He also had the Phantoms’ only hit at the plate in the first inning.
Denmark was able to tally three of its hits in the second inning to plate both of its runs against the talented right-hander.
Pelischek led off the frame with a single. Courtesy pinch runner Justin Schultz then stole second base and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Brad Ausloos. Catcher Ben Wyngaard followed with a run-scoring single and was driven home two batters later on a two-out, run-scoring single by Derrick Umentum.
Vikings lead-off hitter Tanner Umentum posted a pair of hits and reached base in his other at-bat on an error.
“I just went up there with a plan,” Tanner Umentum said. “I knew he was going to be throwing strikes. He’s a college pitcher going to Illinois, so I knew he was going to be throwing strikes and trying to get ahead. So, I just sat fastball and let my bat go do the work.”
Denmark knows it has plenty of work of ahead if it wants to win its first conference title since 2005.
“We know Thursday is a big game as well,” Pelischek said. “So, we’re going to come with the same attitude we did today and try to get another one under our belts.”