By Greg Bates
ACN & Times-Press correspondent
The postseason is a time for high school teams to rely heavily on their seniors.
The Seymour baseball team jumped on the backs of its top two pitchers, Austin Marcks and Justin Krull, and the two seniors didn’t disappoint.
In a WIAA Division 2 regional, the No. 1-seeded Thunder scored identical 8-0 victories over No. 5-seeded Oconto Falls on Tuesday, May 30 and No. 2-seeded Marinette the next day. Marcks and Krull threw all 14 innings combined, gave up just eight hits and remarkably only allowed two runners to advance beyond first base in the two games as Seymour won the regional title.
“Both Austin and Justin were really sharp from the get-go,” Seymour coach Curt Jefson said. “We’ve really just made some minor adjustments with our plan for pitching and it’s really kind of paid off in the last few games. Since that Menasha doubleheader (May 19), we’re just hitting the zone more consistently and then we can expand the zone a bit. You’ve got two seniors on the hill and they’ve both been doing it for years.”
Seymour, seeded No. 1, will face No. 2 seed Mosinee on Tuesday, June 6, at 10:30 a.m. in Clintonville. The winner will advance to the sectional championship at 5 p.m. at the same location.
The Thunder has now won four of its last five games and is clicking at the right time of the year.
“The last two games here are really the two most complete games we’ve played all year – offensively, defensively, pitching,” Jefson said.
With the victories, Seymour (11-15) won its first regional title since 2010 when it advanced to sectionals.
Jefson took over as coach in 2014 when this year’s seniors where freshmen. That makes this year’s run in the postseason a little sweeter.
“It’s pretty cool having worked with these kids for four years and they’ve bought in to what we’ve been teaching,” Jefson said. “It’s nice when you get rewarded. That doesn’t always happen.”
With it being the last day of school for the seniors, Jefson didn’t quite know how his guys would respond.
Seymour scored in five of the six innings and took care of No. 2-seeded Marinette 8-0 to win a regional title on May 31.
“I thought we had real good focus,” Jefson said. “And really as a coach you want your team to play to its potential. That’s what we’ve done the last couple of days.”
Marcks was impressive on the mound for the Thunder. He had to throw just 66 pitches in the seven innings to earn the shutout victory.
“It’s a little easier to play when they’re pretty quick at-bats and we’re getting off the field,” Jefson said.
He surrendered just three hits, walked one and struck out four. The only runner to advance past first base was a player who got a hit in the fourth inning and got to second on a passed ball. Marcks picked off two baserunners in the contest.
Seymour scored single runs in the first and second innings before tallying two in the third. Trevor Cornell had a leadoff hit and on a hit-and-run Trent Blake plated Cornell with a double. Hunter Clark drove in Blake to make it 4-0.
After a run in the fifth, Seymour tacked on more insurance runs with two outs in the sixth. Sam Blank reached on an error, courtesy runner Peyton Gritt stole second and scored on a Cornell triple. Blake followed with an RBI triple and Clark knocked in Blake for the eighth run of the game.
The Thunder pounded out 13 hits and chased Marinette’s starting pitcher after two innings. Clark was 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI to lead the way. Blake was 3-for-4 with a triple, double and single. Cornell and Krull both had two hits apiece.
Oconto Falls 0
Two months ago in the season opener, Oconto Falls downed Seymour 4-2. The Thunder had a shot at redemption on May 31.
Krull’s pitching and prowess on the bath paths helped Seymour score an 8-0 victory at home in a regional semifinal.
Coach Jefson decided to open the playoffs with his right-hander, who has been pitching well. He went with Marcks in the second game of postseason.
“We felt Marinette had a little more speed on the bases, a couple more lefties in the lineup, so we thought that would be a better matchup,” Jefson said.
Krull battled all game as Oconto Falls had just five hits. He had five strikeouts and walked two. The only time a runner advanced to second base the entire game was on a fifth-inning double.
Seymour set the tone in the first inning. Oconto Falls’ Mitch Manns led off with a single and Thunder catcher Blank threw him out attempting to steal second. Kamdan Bloom got a hit and Krull struck out No. 4 hitter Dalton Curl. In the bottom half, Krull was hit by a pitch and moved to third on back-to-back balks. He then scored on a groundout by Blank. Cornell followed with his first home run of the season.
“All of a sudden we’re rolling,” Jefson said. “Everyone was feeling good.”
Krull scored again in the third and Seymour added two more in the fourth. Ryan Peterson had a leadoff double and David Michaelson laid down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by the Oconto Falls third baseman, but no one was covering first as the ball was thrown away. Peterson scored and Michaelson ended up at second. Peyton Dorn successfully got down a suicide squeeze to plate the fifth run.
“I think at that point you kind of see them get a little bit down,” Jefson said.
Seymour added three more runs in the fifth. Peterson had a two-run double and Michaelson drove him in.
Peterson finished with a pair of hits, as did Blake.