Bonduel tops Shawano in Fourth of July exhibition

Wyatt Erb drives in Riddik Bohm twice to lead Grizzlies
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Leader photo by Morgan Rode Shawano’s Nick Grignon prepares to deliver a pitch during a Fourth of July matchup against Bonduel.

The Bonduel and Shawano Legion baseball teams always meet on the Fourth of July. It’s a game players, coaches and fans have circled each summer.

The teams again played on the Fourth of July on Wednesday, but the game was counted only as an exhibition due to the extreme heat and humidity. The game lasted five innings.

Bonduel, which had dropped the first two matchups between the rivals this summer, scored twice in the bottom of the third to claim a 3-1 win.

Shawano jumped out to an early lead after leadoff hitter Parker Pues reached on a bunt single. Brett Ainsworth moved Pues to second with a sacrifice bunt before Pues reached third on a passed ball. Another passed ball, on ball four to Brad Bartz, allowed Pues to score.

Bonduel answered right back in the bottom half of the frame. Riddik Bohm walked to open the inning before moving to second on a groundout. Wyatt Erb then singled down the left field line and Bohm came around to score on the same play.

Erb pitched the first two innings for Bonduel, striking out three batters in the second. Alex Hoffman started the game for Shawano and also worked two frames. Two Shawano batters reached base against Bonduel reliever Isaac Boldt in the third, but the righty got a strikeout to end the threat.

Bryce Engel was hit by a pitch to open the Grizzlies two-run third. Bohm replaced Engel at first after a fielder’s choice before taking second on a passed ball. After a strikeout, Erb delivered again, ripping a RBI single to right to score Bohm. Noah Beilfuss followed by lifting a fly to right that was dropped, allowing Erb, who had stolen second, to score.

Cole Letter replaced Boldt on the mound for Bonduel in the fourth and worked a three up, three down inning. Shawano gave the ball to Ainsworth in the fourth after Nick Grignon had pitched the third. A baserunning blunder by Bonduel allowed the Patriots to put up a zero on the scoreboard, leaving the score 3-1 heading into the fifth.

Bonduel’s Riley Allen walked Isaac Buntrock before Pues reached on a single. After a strikeout, Allen induced a groundball that turned into a game-ending double play.

Despite playing in an exhibition game, Bonduel’s coaching staff still had the same mindset it does for each Fourth of July matchup.

“We try to get everyone in the game, if possible, and as many guys to pitch as we can,” Bonduel coach Jason Boldt said. “Hopefully we come out with wins after that and we did today. It’s big to get our second half of the year going with a win.”

Bonduel will travel to take on Clintonville at 7 p.m. on Sunday in its next game while Shawano is scheduled to host Waupaca in a doubleheader on Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m.

Following a third-place finish in the Clintonville Tournament, Shawano used the exhibition game to get players back into a groove and get everyone some playing time.

Shawano coach Ryan Koenig saw some positive things from his team but also saw room for improvement.

“Tomorrow, hopefully we do not commit the same errors we did today and jump on top like we did today against Wyatt (Erb) and Bonduel,” he said.

For players in both dugouts, the Fourth of July matchup is always one they look forward to.

“I love it and I love playing in front of all the fans,” Shawano’s Jacob Lacy said. “Bonduel is a good matchup, they always bring their A-game and it’s always a ton of fun.”

“It’s always great to celebrate the Fourth of July, not only in itself, but also on the baseball field with your friends,” Bonduel’s Letter said. “We love the atmosphere with all the people watching and the rivalry between the teams.”