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CHIPPEWA FALLS — It was an all-around performance.

The Boyceville baseball team won a Division 3 sectional championship and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in 19 season behind stellar pitching, clean defense and some offensive firepower on Tuesday at Casper Park in Chippewa Falls.

The Bulldogs broke out the bats in the sectional final winning 13-2 in five innings over Cumberland after having shut out Neillsville 2-0 in the semifinal contest earlier in the day.

“These guys believed in each other the whole time. I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “They worked their butts off for this. They’ve been wanting this since they were young kids and I’m just happy I was able to be a part of it with them.”

Boyceville begins state tournament play on Wednesday against Stratford at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute at 1 p.m. in the state semifinals.

“It feels amazing. We put in all kinds of hard work, all kind of dedication into the season,” Trevor Hollister said. “Our team works beyond hard.”

The Bulldogs scored in every inning in the victory over the Beavers — who defeated Bloomer 6-2 in the other semifinal — as the team got the leadoff batter on base in four of the five innings. With two outs in the first, Trett Joles was hit by a pitch and then advanced to third after an error on the pitcher trying to pick Joles off first. Trevor Hollister then plated the opening run of the game with a single.

Boyceville added two runs in the second and three in the third. Ira Bialzik drove in a run with a single and then Jaden Reisimer plated Bialzik after a sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Connor Sempf and Brendan Sempf each plated a run in the third.

After a single tally in the fourth as Hollister scored Reisimer with a double the Bulldogs broke the game wide open with a six-run fifth. Back-to-back singles put two on. Following a groundout a runner scored on a balk and then another crossed the plate after an error. A walk and bunt single loaded the bases for Joles who drove a grand slam over the left field fence to push Boyceville to a 13-2 advantage.

“The first two pitches I had they were really high curve balls and that last one I sat back on it and it just kind of happened,” Joles said of the grand slam. “I just put the bat out on the ball.”

Cumberland scored its two runs in the third. Singles by Dashawn Ames and Dylan Weber started the inning. Boyceville pitcher Walker Retz walked the bases loaded but Hollister made a play at first on the next batter to get a forceout at home plate. The Beavers pushed across its first run on a fielder’s choice to groundout to second with the bases full and then a balk from Retz cut Boyceville’s lead to 6-2.

Hollister went 4-for-4 with two runs batted in with Joles driving in four and scoring three runs. Brendan Sempf and Bialzik each had two hits and while Sempf crossed the plate twice and Bialzik once.

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“Just the confidence boost knowing we were playing to go to state,” Hollister said offense breaking out in game two. “It hasn’t been done at our school in 19 years. We just dialed in and as soon as we saw a first pitch we liked we drove it.”

Walker Retz punched out six — including three in the final inning — allowing two earned runs on three hits.

The Bulldogs got a fantastic outing from Connor Sempf to reach the semifinal with a 2-0 victory earlier in the day over Neillsville. Sempf gave up two hits and struck out eight.

“They’ve been the reason that we’ve been here,” Roemhild said of the team’s pitchers. “Their pitching has been unbelievable. We were feeling comfortable in this game with Connor when he finished the first game we knew we had the advantage with Walker coming out (for game two) and then Trevor if we needed.”

Retz tripled with one out in the first and scored on a groundout from Joles as Boyceville jumped out to a 1-0 advantage after an inning of play. In the second the Bulldogs added to their lead as three straight walks loaded the bases before a RBI groundout from Bialzik.

Neillsville threatened to tie or take the lead in the first. With two outs, a walk and a single put two on followed by a double steal as two runners got into scoring position. Sempf then forced a flyout to center to escape the jam. Sempf faced two over the minimum over the remainder of the game as the Warriors manage just one more hit after the first inning.

Boyceville was boosted by mistake free defense on the day. It didn’t commit an error in either game setting itself apart from its opponents which each had two errors apiece. Defense has been strength for the Bulldogs and the pitchers have benefited greatly throughout the year knowing a solid defense has their back.

“We had some great plays from our outfielders. Infielders made some great plays, first baseman is making plays,” Roemhild said. “We know if we have our pitching and defense we’re sitting good.”

Roemhild said what has been fulfilling of the run to state is the support showed from the previous group that achieved the feat in 2000. Boyceville defeated Algoma 10-3 in the semifinal that year before dropping the championship game to DeSoto 11-1.

Besides Boyceville and Stratford, Markesan will face with Ozaukee in the other Division 3 state semifinal game. Hollister feels confident if the team continues to pitch and play defense the way they have all season Boyceville will be in position to find success against the other top teams in the state.

“We knew right away coming into it we were going to have to grind,” Hollister said of sectionals. “We knew that our pitching was our biggest part of our team. Our pitching is outstanding it’s what gets us in these games — as we showed (with a) 2-0 shutout —and then just back it up and play defense behind it. We’ve done that all year and we deserve to be here.”

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