Jun. 29—GRAND CHUTE — This group of Bulldogs has just about seen it all.
A trip to the state tournament as underclassmen, a wide-eyed introduction to high school baseball’s biggest stage. A disappointing loss to a juggernaut to cut a postseason run short in the penultimate round. A season lost to a global pandemic.
It’s all part of the Boyceville baseball team’s story.
Of course, there was one experience missing from the tale. Until Monday.
The Bulldogs captured their first-ever state championship, defeating Rosholt 4-0 in the Division 4 title game at Fox Cities Stadium to finish off a wild journey in the best way possible.
“That was the best moment of my life right there, I’m not even going to lie,” Bulldogs first baseman Trevor Hollister said.
The Bulldogs, highly-touted all season thanks to a roster loaded with talent and a winning pedigree, couldn’t have asked for much better.
Walker Retz dominated on the mound, pitching a complete game one-hitter to ensure the Hornets would not be lifting the gold trophy. The lone blemish on his line was Blade Niewiadomski’s double in the fourth inning. He struck out 13.
Rosholt only reached base twice. It was that kind of night from the University of St. Thomas commit.
“He was locked in,” Boyceville catcher Trett Joles said. “What was it, one hit? That’s crazy. It was a gem by Walker, and I’m really proud of him.”
The score was closer than many of the Bulldogs’ games, but they were in just as much control as ever. Retz drove in two runs with a single in the fourth inning, Hollister added a sacrifice fly in the fifth and Ira Bialzik capped the scoring with an RBI single in the sixth.
With the way Retz was pitching, even just one run would have been enough. His work made the championship trophy’s bus ride to Boyceville inevitable.
“I had some pretty big people tell me that I didn’t have it anymore coming off my shoulder injury at the beginning of the season,” Retz said. “That just knocked on me the whole time. It stayed in my head each pitch, just proving them wrong.”
Boyceville finished the season 21-1. The Bulldogs didn’t lose a game to a Division 4 opponent all year.
This was the second trip to state for most of the group, who went to Grand Chute in 2019. The young Bulldogs fell to Stratford in the state semifinals that year.
Thanks to that experience, they started this season as one of the favorites to win the state title. They ended it by proving those predictions right.
“It’s very tough when expectations from the beginning of the season are set on young men like this,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “But these guys from the start knew what it took to get here. They knew that feeling of loss from two years ago, and they were determined to not let that happen again.”
The expectations were high from the outside. But they were lofty from inside the dugout too.
“We knew from the start of the year that we wanted to win state,” Joles said. “Our first goal was to beat Webster, and we dominated them (in the sectional finals). We had the same goal coming in here, dominate every team.”
That’s exactly what they did. After hammering Southwestern 11-1 in the semifinals on Monday morning, they dictated the game against the Hornets with the trophy on the line.
It was the first state championship in three trips to state for the program.
“It means a ton,” Retz said. “I know a lot of guys that were on the team that finished runner-up (in 2000) were here, and they supported us the whole way. We kind of did it for them.”
And they did it for themselves. Celebrating at Fox Cities Stadium was a goal from the start, and they checked it off the list just like all the others.
For the group of six seniors, it was exactly how they wanted to go out. Their journey was winding, but it led directly to the pinnacle of Division 4 baseball.
“We came into the state tournament this year really motivated,” Retz said. “The first time we were just young kids and maybe didn’t take it as seriously as we should have. But we were ready this year.”
Now their names will be forever etched into the program’s history book. They’ll carry a distinction every player dreams of — the first group to ever bring home the gold.
“For the town of Boyceville, for something like this to happen is special,” Roemhild said. “I think the whole town was here, and if not, it sounded like it. I couldn’t ask for better fans. These guys, they deserve it and I can’t wait to celebrate with them. … I’m just so proud to be from Boyceville and call myself a Bulldog.”
Boyceville 4, Rosholt 0
Rosholt 000 000 0 — 0 1 4
Boyceville 002 011 X — 4 5 0
WP: Walker Retz (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 13 K, 0 BB). LP: Blade Niewiadomski (5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 K, 1 BB). Leading hitters: Boyceville: Retz 1-2 (2 RBI), Ira Bialzik 2-3 (RBI). Records: Boyceville 21-1, Rosholt 21-4.