SUAMICO - De Pere found itself in basically a must-win situation Tuesday in regards to at least sharing the Fox River Classic Conference baseball title with Bay Port.
Trailing by one game with the regular season winding down, the Redbirds knew they needed their best against a Pirates team that has stymied opposing offenses this season.
De Pere picked the right time to be at its best as the Redbirds jumped on Bay Port right away and never looked back, beating the Pirates, 9-4, tying Bay Port atop the FRCC in the loss column.
"If we lose this, we're two back in the loss column," De Pere coach Bob Van Rens said. "We have three games left, I think they have four games left. We didn't approach it that way (as a must-win), we just approached it as another game and let the pieces falls as they may."
Redbirds batters batter Bay Port
Bay Port entered the game allowing 25 runs in 17 FRCC games, so De Pere knew runs could be at a premium. Nonetheless, the Redbirds didn't flinch, attacking Bay Port starter Ryan Frieder.
In the first four innings, De Pere scored nine runs and clean-up hitter Jameson Dickert got the fun going with a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the first inning that was hit so far it didn't land until the fourth inning.
"The kid's having an amazing year; that was his fifth home run," Van Rens said. "With the new bats this year, he's batting like .450, ton of RBIs. He's a heck of a baseball player."
De Pere, which lost, 8-1, when the teams played the first time, took advantage of Bay Port not pitching its ace Ben Messenger, who pitched Saturday against Manitowoc. Messenger beat De Pere the first time, but Van Rens downplayed not seeing Messenger a second time.
"We're not worried about other teams, what they're throwing out there," Van Rens said. "Frieder's having a great year. His ERA is like 0.7. He's a heck of a pitcher."
Nehring on his game
Tyler Nehring was a heck of a pitcher Tuesday. The Redbirds senior pitched six shutout innings, allowing four hits, striking out nine and walking four.
For the most part, he handcuffed an offense that was averaging 6.6 runs per game.
"We started out the year with Tyler coming out of the bullpen," Van Rens said. "We wanted to save his arm and use him down the stretch here as our main guy."
Nehring struck out at least one batter each of his six innings. He said he felt good before the game.
"Some days you don't feel like it's your day," Nehring said. "I felt fresh and was ready to go. I'm happy with the way I performed. I just relaxed and threw strikes. My stuff was working."
Redbirds are a motivated team
Before the season started, De Pere was picked to finish sixth in the FRCC and the Redbirds haven't forgotten.
"It was motivation for us," Nehring said. "Coming in we knew what we had; we had something special. We had a bunch of seniors. We just kind of took over in the off-season. We were motivated by the ranking."
But the FRCC title isn't the only thing on the Redbirds' minds.
"We knew we have a tough sectional," Nehring said about the postseason. "We play teams like this the way we played today, we can beat anybody. We expect to move on to state."
- Notes: Nehring struck out the final batter in each of the first four innings. … Nehring had three walks and three strikeouts in the second inning. … The teams combined to use seven pitchers, four by Bay Port. … Bay Port and De Pere each have three losses in the FRCC, while the next closest team has seven losses.
- Game ball: Nehring, who was tough on the mound and also had two hits.
- Numbers game: 9 Runs scored by De Pere are the most scored against Bay Port this season.
DE PERE 9, BAY PORT 4
De Pere…222 300 0 – 9 13 1
Bay Port...000 000 4 – 4 6 0
WP – Tyler Nehring (6 IP, 4 H, 9 K, 4 BB)
LP – Ryan Freider (2 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, BB, HP)
Top hitters: DP – Collin Arndt 2-4; Nehring 2-5; Jameson Dickert 2-3, HR, 3 RBI; Connor Kersten 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI. BP – Brock Maholm 2-3, 2 2B.
Records: De Pere 18-4, 16-3. Bay Port 16-5, 15-3.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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