Erb pitches gem in Bonduel’s win over Clintonville

Four-run inning helps Grizzlies past Diamond Cats

Leader photo by Morgan Rode Bonduel’s Wyatt Erb fires a pitch during Monday’s 4-0 win over Clintonville. Erb struck out 18 batters during the game.

To say Wyatt Erb and the Bonduel American Legion baseball team got the summer season off to a strong start might be an understatement.

Erb pitched a two-hit shutout, and the Bonduel offense provided a four-run second inning to down Clintonville 4-0 at Jack Reinke Field in Bonduel on Monday night.

Clintonville put runners on second and third with just one out in the top of the first inning before Erb settled in. The lefty struck out the inning’s final two batters, a sign of things to come.

Erb recorded the next 12 outs in the game by strikeouts and finished the contest with 18 strikeouts over seven stellar innings.

“I felt great tonight, I had everything working,” Erb said. “I was just trying to keep pounding the strike zone, hitting spots and trusting my defense. It happened that I was throwing pitches and they were swinging and missing.”

“After that first inning, he settled in and started getting ahead of batters which is huge for him,” Bonduel coach Jason Boldt said. “He likes to work fast and when he is up 0-1 or 0-2, it’s lights out.”

After escaping the jam in the top of the first frame, Bonduel put together a threat of its own in the bottom half. The Grizzlies got runners to first and second with just one out before Clintonville starting pitcher Colton Kluth struck out a batter and induced a groundout to end the frame.

Bonduel put together a two-out rally in the second inning despite having two of the first three batters in the inning strikeout.

Isaac Boldt was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second before Jordan Boldt delivered a RBI single to score Bryce Weier, who had singled with one out, from second. Brandon Olsen followed with a RBI single of his own, scoring Isaac Boldt from second and moving Jordan Boldt to third. Olsen then stole second base.

Erb followed by ripping a liner that deflected off of Kluth’s glove, allowing Jordan Boldt and Olsen to cross home plate to cap the four-run frame.

“I was just looking for my pitch, something that I could drive and I happened to barrel one up,” Erb said. “It was good that that there was some people on for me to drive in.”

From there, it was a pitcher’s duel between Kluth and Erb. Kluth faced just two batters over the minimum the rest of the game. He allowed a total of six hits in the contest while striking out six batters.

Erb faced four batters over the minimum across the final five innings. He worked out of jams in the third and sixth innings, getting the final batters of the frames out on strikeouts.

Despite being shutout, Clintonville coach Randy Finger was proud of the effort the team put forward.

“These guys never gave up tonight even though Wyatt pitched one heck of a game,” Finger said. “That was unbelievable, 18 strikeouts, that’s unheard of. These guys will battle back from this.”

Bonduel and Clintonville each are coming off strong spring seasons, where Bonduel reached the regional final in Division 3 and Clintonville made a surprise run to sectionals in Division 2. While the spring baseball season and summer American Legion season are not related, the two teams have become rivals over the summers, with plenty of tight matchups throughout the seasons.

For Bonduel, which was playing its first contest of the summer, the win could prove to be a big confidence booster for a team looking to win a title at the end of the season.

“This guys were a little down after that St. Mary Catholic game in high school,” coach Boldt said. “After that loss, they want to come out and prove something this summer. It’s a great start for us, that’s for sure.”

“This win gives us a lot of confidence,” Erb said. “When the schedule came out, we were looking to this first game against Clintonville because they are one of our biggest rivals. We lost to them twice last year and we didn’t want to let that happen again.”

Bonduel will travel to take on Shawano at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in its next scheduled matchup.

Monday’s contest marked Clintonville’s third game of the summer already. The Diamond Cats lost a 9-0 contest to Wittenberg to open the season before toppling Menominee 11-5 on Sunday.

In its next game, Clintonville is scheduled to travel to Winneconne. The game is slated for a 6 p.m. start on Thursday.