By Dan Truttschel ~ Sports Correspondent

Not that playing Kenosha Bradford wasn’t difficult enough, the Wilmot baseball team found out moments before its WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal contest last week that it would also be without its leading hitter.

But the Panthers still battled the eventual state qualifier right to the end.

Wilmot senior Kenny Eterno was held out of the semifinal at UW-Whitewater with concussion-like symptoms after he was hit in the face by a ball during warm-ups, and the Panthers never could get on track in a 4-0 loss.

The Panthers ended the spring at 16-12 overall, while Bradford later won the sectional title to advance to this week’s state tournament.

Eterno’s absence definitely was tough to overcome, Wilmot coach Josh Pye said, but he was proud of how his team fought.

“Kenny was a big offensive threat for us,” Pye said. “We got the news right before game time, and the guys rallied together, didn’t hang their heads one bit, and they went out and did the best they could.”

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Bradford scored once on an RBI single. The Red Devils added three insurance runs in the sixth to close out the scoring.

“Bradford kept battling,” Pye said. “That’s why they have the record they have and why they’re going to state. We were in the same boat. We just caught a tough break in the fifth. Both teams battled hard. It was a good game. Unfortunately, we came up on the wrong end.”

Wilmot managed just three hits off Bradford starter Kevin Tibor, one each by Cameron Loveless, Corey Crowder and Cal Rohrman.

“Tibor throws hard, and he has a nice breaking ball,” Pye said. “He kept us in check. But our guys went up there and battled every at bat and put the ball in play.”

Cal Rohrman took the loss for the Panthers, as he worked 5-1/3 innings, and allowed six hits, three earned runs, a walk and struck out four. Nick Heniff pitched the final two-thirds of an inning and allowed three walks.

Despite the loss, Pye said the season, which included a Southern Lakes Conference title, was a success, especially with so many younger players having a significant varsity role.

Wilmot had just four seniors on the roster – Eterno, Rohrman, Kevin Conrad and Dan Porteous, who was lost for the season with a knee injury late in the winter.

“We had good senior leadership, we had a strong junior class and three sophomores who played all spring,” Pye said. “I thought they came together very well.

“They were playing well at the end of the season, won two regional games, got to the sectional and were able to give Bradford a fight. I have no hesitation with this group going forward.”

Pye already is excited for 2013.

“We’re going to miss our seniors, but (the returning players) are hungry and ready for next year,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the underclassmen coming back, and I think we’re going to have a couple good additions off that JV team. I think we have a lot to look forward to.”


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