By KELLY FENTON
The Denmark News
DENMARK – It went from a game in which nothing was happening to a game in which almost nothing didn’t happen.
From strikeouts and walks, empty bases and lazy pop ups to down-to-your-last-strike game-tying hits and dropped fly balls, to runners being thrown out at the plate to Satoris driving in Satoris and Brennans relieving Brennens.
When all the latent craziness ended, Denmark had knocked off the No. 8 team in the state and extended the careers of its seniors with its second straight extra-inning postseason victory, this one 6-1 over Wrightstown in the D2 regional semifinals.
“It’s overwhelming,” said winning reliever Brennan Genz, who had the game-tying hit with two outs in the seventh. “I don’t even know how to put it. This was a good win. We really wanted this one.”
Denmark plays top seed West De Pere on Wednesday.
It’s not really fair to say nothing was happening in the early going: Denmark ace Brennen Miller had a no-hitter through 5 1-3 innings. That’s when watching the grass grow suddenly was no longer the most interesting thing to do on the chilly, late-May afternoon in Wrightstown.
Ben Jaeger singled to end the no-hitter and Peyton Just doubled to end the shutout and give Wrightstown a 1-0 lead, just three outs from moving on to the next round.
But down to their last out with no one aboard, the Vikings rallied. Reece Piontek blistered a double to left-center and Brennan Genz fought off a two-strike pitch to drop one into left-center, scoring Piontek easily and tying the game.
“I’m just looking to put the ball in play,” Genz said. “With two strikes, just make contact.”
It appeared all for naught when a walk, an error and a wild pitch put the winning Tiger at third with no outs in the bottom of the inning. On Andrew Lamers’ shallow pop down the right field line, Wrightstown got greedy and tried to end it, but Denmark freshman outfielder Kenny Satori delivered a strike to catcher Travis Wellner, who had time to file his nails before tagging out the runner 10 feet from the plate.
“When he caught it, I knew he was going to make the perfect throw,” Genz said of the double play. “I didn’t think the guy was coming (from third) but then Kenny chucked it and it wasn’t even close.”
Denmark intentionally walked the North Eastern Conference Player of the Year, Luke Renard, before Genz plunked Jeremy Van Zeeland to put the winning run in scoring position again. But Genz, who picked up his second straight postseason win in masterful relief, got a strikeout to send the game to extras.
The Vikings, who had five hits through the first seven innings, doubled their total in a five-run eighth. It began with a one-out error on the center fielder, who simply dropped Jack Satori’s routine fly ball. Miller and Czarneski followed with singles to load them up before Kenny Satori sent a 3-2 pitch through the left side to score brother Jack and put Denmark ahead 2-1.
One out later, Piontek drew a bases-loaded walk before Genz lined a two-run single to right. For good measure, Gabe Wertel delivered Piontek with a single through the left side.
Genz closed it out, pitching around a one-out single as Denmark won the season series from the Tigers, 2-1, and improved to 18-9 while Wrightstown concluded a 21-6 season. Genz was recently voted Most Improved Player for Denmark.
“That means a lot,” he said. “I put in the work, but I didn’t really have the faith in myself. But after the last two games, I feel like I really stepped up to the plate.”
Genz pitched the final 2 2-3 innings, allowing one hit, two walks and a hit batter, but he recorded strikeouts to end the seventh inning and the game in the eighth. That followed 3 2-3 of scoreless ball in the opening-round win over Luxemburg-Casco last week.
“He’s come through twice now and tonight he came through with some hitting, too,” said Denmark head coach Bill Miller. “He’s got the ability. He just sometimes doubts himself. Be he was really dialed in today.”
But his performance doesn’t overshadow Brennen Miller’s standout job through 5 1-3. Miller allowed two hits and fanned seven.
“Brennen had his best outing today against the best team in the conference with five First-Teamers,” Bill Miller said.
Genz had three of Denmark’s 10 hits, as well as three RBI. Czarneski and Kenny Satori also recorded a pair of hits.
“That was actually fun to watch,” Bill Miller said afterward. “A pitchers’ duel in the beginning and then we finally broke out in the eighth inning with clutch hits from guys who hadn’t been getting a lot of hits this year. Everybody had a clutch moment, defensively and offensively.”