Young Rosholt baseball team battles back into CWC-10 contention
After winning the last seven Central Wisconsin Conference-10
(CWC-10) Titles, the Rosholt
High School baseball team
entered this season with lowered expectations.
The Hornets lost five starters from last season’s team that
finished 19-6 overall and 17-1 in the conference, and had several underclassmen
step into the starting lineup this spring.
Following a 4-3 start to this season, Rosholt has won five
of its last six games to improve to 9-4 in the conference and pull within
striking distance of Gresham
(11-2) and Almond-Bancroft (9-3), with less than two weeks left in the regular
“We started the year without a lot of high expectations, and
knowing we’d have to work hard, because we were so young and so inexperienced,”
said 29th-year Rosholt baseball head coach Jack Brooks. “We’re getting more
seasoning now, the younger guys are starting to pick it up, and they’re good
“We have six freshmen, and give them a couple of years,
they’re going to be really good,” he said. “The older guys are picking it up
now too, and every time you play, you want to keep improving.”
Last season the Hornets went 17-1 in the CWC-10 to win their
seventh consecutive Conference Title, as they went 114-3 in conference and had
a 90-game win streak in the CWC-10 during that span, before they lost to
Iola-Scandinavia in the WIAA Division 3 Regional Semifinals to finish 19-6
Rosholt lost eight seniors from a year ago, led by CWC-10
Player of the Year and First Team All-CWC-10 pitcher/catcher Spencer Bembenek
and First Team All-CWC-10 pitcher/shortstop Spencer Hahn, Second Team
All-CWC-10 designated hitter Lucas Wiza and Honorable Mention All-CWC-10 first
baseman Troy Karpinski.
“Spencer Bembenek and Spencer Hahn were probably the two
best pitchers in the conference, and that was a big loss,” said Brooks. “Those
four guys did a lot last year, and when they hit, we played real well.”
Sophomore center fielder Dylan Richter returns as a starter
and bats at the top of the lineup for Rosholt this season, followed by freshman
shortstop/pitcher Tony Karpinski and Second Team All-CWC-10 left fielder Caleb
“Dylan’s a key, he gets on base and he’s one of the quicker
guys,” said Brooks. “Tony’s hitting right now is up-and-down, and you expect
that out of a freshman, but he does come through with some key stuff.
“And when Caleb’s on, he’s the best player we’ve got,” he
said. “He has the ability to carry the team if he plays at that level.”
Second Team All-CWC-10 pitcher/infielder/catcher Kyle
Groshek is also back as a starter, followed by sophomore first baseman Wyatt
Stanislawski, with senior Brandon Kruzicki returning as a starter in right
“Kyle pitched a great game (at fifth-ranked Almond-Bancroft
last week) and went 3-for-3, you can’t ask for any better than that,” said
Brooks of a 4-3 win Friday, May 6. “And Wyatt came through with a big hit that
drove in the winning run.
“We have one senior out there, Brandon, and the rest were
all underclassmen,” he said.
Sophomore third baseman Johnny Suwyn has moved into the
starting lineup, with junior Riley Printz and senior Danny Kurtzman among those
seeing time at designated hitter, while freshman second baseman Hunter Garski
rounds out the team’s batting order.
“John puts the bat on the ball and plays a decent third
base,” he said. “Hunter’s only a freshman, he’s the smallest kid on the field,
but he’s got the biggest brain on the field, as far as the game of baseball.
“And he’s got to accept that,” he said. “The guys around him
realize that, and if he would just take over that leadership role, and telling
guys what to do out there, we’ll be a better team.”
Also in the mix for playing time for the Hornets are seniors
Chris Flores, Ryan Rzentkowski, Logan Esker and Ryan Hoppa, sophomores Zach
Wanserski and Pat Baker and freshmen Logan McHugh, Brandon Wanta and Isaac
Groshek, while freshman Zach Lepak has also seen regular action at catcher.
“We were stuck without a second catcher, and Zach caught
when he was younger,” said Brooks. “He has said, ‘I don’t like to catch, but
I’ll do it for the team.’
“A good team player; and he’s a freshman,” he said. “You don’t lose with kids like that.”
Rosholt opened its season with a 7-6 win at Tri-County April
4, before it lost at home to Gresham 4-2 April 11 and Almond 4-3 April 14,
followed by three wins in a row and a 3-1 loss at home to Port Edwards to drop
to 4-3 overall.
“We had errors in every game we lost,” said Brooks. “When
you’ve got a young team, it’s hard to overcome errors.
“Now we’re starting to get more experience, and we’re
starting to overcome those errors,” he said.
The Hornets came back with three more wins in a row,
including a 6-5 win at Port Edwards May 2, before a 4-2 loss to Gresham Thursday May 5,
left them at 7-4 overall entering their game at fifth-ranked Almond Friday, May
Starting pitcher Kyle Groshek allowed one earned run over
the first four innings, but Rosholt trailed 2-1 entering the top of the fifth
inning, when Garski led off with a walk. Richter had a bunt single, and
Karpinski walked to load the bases with nobody out.
Kyle Groshek then reached on an error that allowed two runs
to score and gave the Hornets a 3-2 lead, while Stanislawski added a RBI single
later in the inning to make it 4-2.
Almond answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the
fifth to close within 4-3, and put the tying run on second base with two outs
in the bottom of the seventh inning, before Kyle Groshek got a strikeout to
close his complete-game performance in Rosholt’s 4-3 win.
The Hornets (9-4) followed with a 6-2 win at home over
Marion (0-13) Monday, May 9, to move into third place in the CWC-10 behind
Gresham (11-2) Almond (9-3), with Port Edwards (8-4) and Tigerton (8-5) also in
“The teams that are in the running are playing each other
now, so they’re going to beat up on each other,” said Brooks. “Port Edwards is
a solid team, Almond’s a solid team and Gresham
has got a good pitcher.”
As the CWC-10 race heads into the final two weeks of the
season, Rosholt has five conference games left, as it is set to play at
Tigerton (8-5) Thursday, May 12, host Menominee Indian (6-6) May 16 and Wild
Rose (6-6) May 19, travel to Menominee Indian May 20 and close the regular
season at home against Bowler (4-8) May 23.
That will lead into the start of the WIAA Playoffs Thursday,
May 26, as the Hornets are back in Division 4 this season, after they spent the
last two years in Division 3.
“When we started this year, our goal was not to win
conference,” said Brooks. “We want to get as good as we can get, get to the
playoffs and see what happens from there.
“You’ve got to set some type of goal, and realistically, when
we started, winning conference was not a goal for us, because we had too much
youth,” he said. “And being where we’re at now, for us, is a big plus.
“We might be overachieving a bit, but I don’t think so,
because the kids we’ve got are learning the game of baseball,” he said. “And
once they get that down pat, we’ll be a lot better team.”