Baseball: Oconto Falls rolls past Shawano in nonconference play

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Uelmen turns in strong start
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Oconto Falls pitcher Braden Uelmen fires a pitch during the early innings of a nonconference win over Shawano on April 22. Uelmen allowed just two runs over four innings. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

The Oconto Falls High School baseball team grabbed an early lead and never looked back in a convincing 16-6 nonconference road victory over Shawano on April 22.

Senior Connor Peetz delivered a two-out RBI single in the top of the first inning, giving Oconto Falls sophomore starting pitcher Braden Uelmen a lead before he stepped on the rubber.

Uelmen pitched with confidence from his opening pitch, attacking the Shawano lineup and getting his teammates back in the dugout quickly on what was a cool and overcast evening of play.

Uelmen ended up pitching the first four innings, allowing a pair of fourth inning runs.

The Panthers (2-3) gave Uelmen some insurance with a pair of third inning runs.

Senior Jo Schoen walked and junior Mitchell Manns singled to open the inning before moving up a base when senior Jacob Foster reached on an error with one out.

With two outs, Uelmen drew a walk to force in Schoen. Junior Matthew Klein was then plunked by a pitch to allow Manns to score.

Oconto Falls tallied three more runs in the fourth to open up a 6-0 lead.

Junior Andrew Klein singled to open the frame and came around to score on an error. Manns hit a bloop single later in the inning and scored on a RBI sacrifice fly by Foster. Peetz singled in the inning and scored on a wild pitch.

After Shawano (1-7) finally got to Uelmen in the fourth, Oconto Falls erupted for seven runs in the fifth to go up 13-2.

Andrew Klein drove in Uelmen on a groundout before Manns brought home Matthew Klein with a single. Peetz then walked to force in senior Cade Rathsack.

Foster followed with a two-RBI single to score Schoen and Manns. Foster would later score on a single from Uelmen before senior Trevor Pankratz scored on a wild pitch to cap the big frame.

Foster came on to pitch for Oconto Falls in the fifth and looked to be on his way to throwing a scoreless inning, which would have given the visitors the win by the 10-run rule. Instead, a throwing error with two outs gifted Shawano two runs.

The Hawks scored three in the frame to extend the game.

“I stressed when you have a big lead you need to finish by taking care of the ball,” said Oconto Falls coach Charlie Rochon on what he told the team after the game. “Errors should not let them back into the game.”

Oconto Falls was unable to tack on any runs in the sixth and Shawano added another in its half of the sixth, but Panthers senior Dylan Nelson was able to halt the rally.

Oconto Falls put an exclamation mark on its win by scoring three runs in the seventh.

Foster reached on an error before Pankratz hit a towering home run down the left field line.

“I didn’t even know I hit it that hard — I thought I just popped it up,” said Pankratz of his first varsity homer. “It felt pretty good to end the game with that homer.”

Sophomore Tucker Bouche scored the Panthers final run later in the inning after an error.

After walking the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, Nelson got the next three batters out to seal the victory.