By KELLY FENTON
The Denmark News
DENMARK – It was double-or-nothing day at the ballpark on Thursday afternoon when Denmark traveled to Fox Valley Lutheran.
The Vikings, who collected all of 21 doubles in the entirety of the 2018 season, belted five – three in one inning – in dispatching the Foxes, 10-5, in what was FVL’s first home game of the season due to ongoing drainage issues. Fox Valley hit four doubles of its own for a total of nine on the afternoon.
Denmark improved to 15-7 overall, 11-5 in North Eastern Conference play, ostensibly with a doubleheader to conclude league play on Saturday. But with rain looming and with Wrightstown having already clinched the conference and the regional seedings set, it is uncertain when or if the games will be played.
Gabe Wertel came up big for Denmark on Thursday with a double, two singles, two runs and two RBI as the Vikings avenged Tuesday’s 5-3 setback to FVL. Denmark sent 10 to the plate in a decisive six-run fourth inning, collecting three doubles and two singles and busting open a 2-2 tie.
“It was nice to see,” said Denmark head coach Bill Miller, laughing and shaking his head at his team’s off-and-on offensive production. “You just never know. The other day (against FVL) we had the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings and couldn’t get a clutch hit. Let’s just see what the next game brings.”
Brennan Genz and Wertel lined one-out doubles and Hayden Konkol was safe on an error to open the fourth. Jack Satori grounded an RBI single to right and Jerick Czarneski drove in another run with a fielder’s choice. Kenny Satori then lined a 1-1 pitch over the left fielder’s head for a two-run double and scored on Reece Piontek’s single.
Denmark had plated single runs in the second on third. Wertel delivered a two-out RBI single to stake the Vikings to a 1-0 lead, while Kenny Satori drove in Jack Satori with a ground out in the second. Fox Valley scored two in the third to tie it.
The Foxes answered Denmark’s 6-spot with three of their own in the bottom of the fourth, but winning pitcher Brennen Miller was able to record two of his four strikeouts in the inning to escape with an 8-5 lead.
The Denmark bats went back to work in the fifth, with Wertel singling, moving to second on a wild pitch and coming across on Konkol’s hard ground-ball single to right. Miller doubled him home with two outs.
Miller restored some order with a 1-2-3 fifth and was aided by an outstanding back-to-the-infield sliding catch of a bloop by shortstop Hayden Konkol in the sixth that saved a run.
“That was a big play and stopped the inning,” Miller said. “It was a real nice play. Hayden’s not a natural shortstop but he’s been solid for us.”
Genz faced the final two batters of the game, retiring both to end it. Miller, who didn’t have his best stuff but recorded timely outs, allowed 11 hits, one walk and five runs, striking out four over 6 1-3 innings. Miller, who entered the game having allowed only two earned runs over 31 innings, improved to 6-1.
“They’re a good-hitting team,” Miller said of FVL. “On Tuesday their first four batters swung on the first pitch and they hit the ball hard again today. I don’t know if Brennen was hitting his spots like he has all year. You know he’s not going to overpower anybody. He needs to go in and out and I think he wasn’t coming inside quite enough and was leaving it out there.”
Denmark, which has struggled with the bats at times this season, knocked around a good starting pitcher in FVL’s Drew Reader, eventually finishing with 12 hits. Several of their outs were hit hard, including a couple of line shots by Jack Satori that found the gloves of the third baseman and shortstop. Konkol also nearly matched Satori’s frozen rope to third to start the game by doing the same to open the seventh.
Miller also finished with three hits, while Genz collected a pair of doubles. Kenny Satori drove in three runs. Denmark also swiped five bases.
The third-seeded Vikings open regional play next Thursday when they host Luxemburg-Casco. The winner takes on the winner between two seed Wrightstown and Two Rivers in the semifinals. On the other side of the brackets Freedom and Little Chute will vie for a chance to take on top seed De Pere in the other semi. The semifinals are slated for Tuesday, May 28.