By Dan Truttschel ~ Sports Correspondent

What started out on a positive note with a pair of Southern Lakes Conference victories ended with a bit of a struggle Saturday for the Wilmot baseball team.

And now the Panthers must find a way to bounce back.

Wilmot dropped a pair of non-conference contests to host Kimberly, as it fell 13-3 in the opener and 6-3 in the nightcap. The two-game sweep dropped the Panthers to 12-10 overall and 9-4 in the Southern Lakes Conference heading into a road game Tuesday at Badger.

Results of that matchup were unavailable by press time.

Prior to the twinbill sweep at Kimberly, the Panthers dropped a 5-3 SLC decision to Badger, which is at the end of a remarkable turnaround season this spring. Badger, which won just four games a year ago, entered play this week with a chance at least a share of the conference title.

Badger led 2-1 heading into the top of the sixth inning, when it broke open the close game with a three-run sixth inning. Wilmot tried to claw back into the game with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings but couldn’t get any closer.

“Our defense gave Badger some extra bases to put them in scoring position,” Wilmot coach Josh Pye said. “They came up with some big hits when they needed them.

“Offensively, for us, it was a tough night. We had trouble getting guys on base, and when we did, we ran ourselves off of the bases.”

Garrett Bogucki led the Panthers with two hits and an RBI, followed by Cameron Loveless with a double and a run scored. Cal Rohrman took the loss for Wilmot, as he allowed seven hits, a walk and struck out eight in six innings of work.

“Cal Rohrman turned in another good pitching performance but took a tough loss,” Pye said.

Nick Heniff relieved Rohrman and struck out three in his only inning on the mound.

The week started on a positive note, as Wilmot swept Elkhorn in a two-game home-and-away series. Wilmot opened play with a 16-0 win May 14, followed by a 10-4 win May 15.

In the May 15 game, Wilmot broke a 4-4 tie with a six-run fifth inning to put the game out of reach.

Kenny Eterno had two hits, including a triple, and two RBI, followed by Evan Ketterhagen with two hits, including a double, two runs scored and an RBI.

Picking up the win was Chaz Schmidt, who allowed two walks and struck out 10.

“Chaz pitched a great game,” Pye said. “He did a great job of challenging hitters and working all sides of the plate.

“Defensively, we didn’t make a couple of plays that let Elkhorn get back in the game. … Offensively, we ran the bases aggressively and put some pressure on Elkhorn’s defense to produce a couple of runs.”

In the opener, Wilmot scored in six of its seven at bats, including seven runs in the top of the seventh inning to cruise past Elkhorn.

Ketterhagen led a balanced offensive attack with three hits, including a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Bogucki, Kevin Conrad, Scott Litwin, Loveless and Schmidt each had two hits apiece.

Schmidt and Loveless had a team-high three RBI, while Bogucki drove in two and Conrad and Litwin each one.

Rohrman worked the first five innings, allowed a walk and struck out nine to pick up the victory.

“Cal was dominant in his pitching performance,” Pye said. “He went right at hitters, and Elkhorn is a team that comes to the plate swinging the bat.

“Offensively, we had several players with multiple hits on the evening. It was nice to see some offensive consistency by scoring in every inning but one.”

Following Tuesday’s SLC finale at Badger, the Panthers closed out their regular-season schedule Thursday afternoon against visiting Racine Case. Action in the WIAA regional playoffs begins next week.




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