Almond-Bancroft challenges for first Conference Title in 30 years
Heading down the final stretch of the regular season, the Almond-Bancroft High School baseball team will have a
chance to win its first Conference Title since 1986.
The Eagles returned most of their lineup from last season’s
team that finished 18-8, after they went 7-22-1 the previous two seasons.
Following an 11-1 start this spring and climbing to fifth in
Division 4 in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association Poll, Almond (11-3,
9-3) lost back-to-back games to fall behind Gresham (11-2, 11-2) in the CWC-10
standings, but will have an opportunity to grab the lead with a pair of games
against Gresham next week.
“It’s new for us,” said Almond-Bancroft baseball head coach
Rod Turzinski, who was a senior on Almond’s 1986 Conference Championship
baseball team. “So it’s fun, but there’s pressure though.
“It’s a different kind of game,” he said.
and finishing ninth in the CWC-10 in 2014, the Eagles ended Rosholt’s 90-game
conference winning streak last year on their way to a third-place finish in the
CWC-10 with a 13-5 record in the conference.
That matched Almond’s conference win total over the previous
three seasons, when they went a combined 13-31-1, while the team finished 18-8
overall after a loss to Wild Rose in the WIAA Division 4 Regional Semifinals.
“When my seniors were freshmen, we didn’t have a kid on the
team that had thrown a single pitch in a varsity game,” said Turzinski. “So we
started out that way, and then they learned on their own.
“You can only coach the talent you’ve got,” he said. “And
we’ve got talented kids here.”
Almond is led at the top of the lineup this season by the
return of First Team All-CWC-10 senior pitcher/shortstop Johl Turzinski,
Honorable Mention All-CWC-10 junior infielder/pitcher Carter Newby and First
Team All-CWC-10 sophomore catcher Derek Baumgartner.
“My true leaders, without a doubt, are Johl and Derek, and
Derek’s just a sophomore,” said coach Turzinski. “Between Newby, Turzinski and
(Cade) Lamb, those guys can play any of those three spots (in the infield), and
they can all pitch too.
“So it’s not a problem to switch them around,” he said. “If
one guy goes on the mound, we’re still solid, no matter where those guys are.”
Honorable Mention All-CWC-10 sophomore pitcher/infielder
Alec Wiczek and senior center fielder Garett Yonke also return from a year ago,
and have been joined in the lineup by freshman infielder/pitcher Cade Lamb.
“Alec’s a solid pitcher, (Friday against Rosholt) was his
first earned run given up as a starter this year,” said coach Turzinski. “Garett’s
been our power guy since he was a freshman, he got in a little bit of a slump, we
moved him to five just to mix things up and it’s working.
“And Lamb’s probably batting .380, .390 this year, so that’s
big,” he said.
Rounding out the Eagles’ lineup this spring has been junior first
baseman Wyatt Richtmyre, freshman Zach Clark and senior right fielder Nathaniel
“We’ve got a lot of nice ballplayers,” said coach Turzinski.
“And they’re not all seniors.
“There are freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, two or
three out of each grade,” he said. “So they’ll be good for a long time.”
Almond opened this season with six wins in a row, including
a 4-3 win at reigning CWC-10 Champion Rosholt April 14, before it lost at home
to Port Edwards 3-2 April 18.
The Eagles came back with five wins in a row to improve to
11-1 and move to fifth in the WBCA Division 4 state rankings, as they headed into
their matchup at home against Rosholt Friday, May 6.
Almond used a RBI single in the bottom of the first inning
from Wiczek to score Newby and take a 1-0 lead, while Rosholt reached on a pair
of walks off Wiczek and scored on an error in the top of the second to tie the
game at 1-1.
It remained that way until the bottom of the fourth inning,
when Yonke led off with a triple to the fence in center field, and scored on a
RBI groundout from Lamb to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
Rosholt came back in the top of the fifth, as it loaded the
bases against Wiczek with a pair of walks and an error, and then scored two
runs on an error and another run on a RBI single to center field to take a 4-2
Almond rallied for a run in the bottom of the fifth, as Johl
Turzinski led off with a walk, stole second and third, and then scored on a RBI
groundout to make it 4-3, which it remained heading into the bottom of the
There, Newby walked with two outs and stole second base,
before Rosholt starting pitcher Kyle Groshek got a strikeout to end the game,
as Rosholt held on for a 4-3 win.
“We’re not used to having too many base runners on, with the
way the pitching’s been this year,” said coach Turzinski. “Rosholt’s a good
team, they made us pitch and they got on base.
“We did have some errors, and the runs we’ve given up this
year have been unearned,” he said. “(Plus) some of our big hitters didn’t get
hits, and that’ll happen.”
The loss left Almond (9-2), Gresham (9-2) and Port Edwards (8-2) with two
losses each at the top of the CWC-10 standings entering play Monday, May 9, when
the Eagles lost 8-2 at Tri-County (2-12) and Gresham swept a doubleheader at
home against Port Edwards.
That gave Gresham
(11-2) the lead in the conference over Almond (9-3), Rosholt (9-4), Port
Edwards (8-4) and Tigerton (8-5) with less than two weeks left in the regular
“(Rosholt’s) hanging around, Gresham’s in it, and we’ve got to go to Port
yet,” said coach Turzinski. “And we’ve got Gresham twice, so it’s a long ways from over.
“I said it weeks ago, ‘there’s going to be a lot of teams
getting beat up in this conference,’” he said. “And that’s what’s happened.”
The Eagles have six conference games left, starting at Port
Thursday, May 12, before they host Tigerton at Friday, May 13, and Gresham at Monday, May 16.
Almond will hit the road to play at Gresham the next day at Tuesday, May 17, then will be at
Bowler (4-8) May 19 and at Marion
(0-13) May 23, before the regular season-finale at home against Tigerton May 24.
The WIAA Division 4 Playoffs will follow with the Regional
Quarterfinals Thursday, May 26, as the Eagles will compete in the same Regional
with Wild Rose and Tri-County as part of the Johnson Creek Sectional, while the
rest of the CWC-10 is on the other half of the bracket in the Rosholt
“Our goal at the start of the year, we wanted to win two playoff
games,” said coach Turzinski. “And the conference, there was all hype about
that, but last year they picked us to finish last, and we went 18-8.
“So the clowns that do the rankings and the picks there, you
can’t listen to them anyway,” he said. “It’s one game-at-a-time.”