Don’t look now but the Viroqua High School baseball team may be peaking at just the right time. With the WIAA regionals on the horizon the Blackhawks put together a four-game winning streak last week, with a combination of solid pitching, improved defense and a potent offense.
Viroqua vs. G-E-T
Dalton Burckhardt, Andrew Wedwick and Kory Vold combined to throw a one-hitter and the Viroqua Blackhawks pounded G-E-T pitching for 14 hits and 15 runs, in a lopsided 15-4 victory over the Red Hawks, Tuesday, May 16. The game, played at the Park Bowl, gained a split of a Coulee Conference doubleheader for the home team as G-E-T prevailed by a 9-5 margin in game one. That loss was the last of the week for VHS.
The Blackhawks rapped out 10 hits in the opening game loss, but stranded nine runners and were the victims of a 15-strikeout performance by G-E-T starting pitcher Blake Theisse. The Red Hawks carried a 9-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, but Theisse had reached a 97-pitch count and was relieved by Brett Lettner. Lettner got the final out of the sixth, but the Blackhawks rallied for three hits and three runs in the seventh, before falling short in the come-back bid.
Dalton Burckhardt led the Blackhawk hitters going 2-for-4 (run, 2 RBI), Hunter Vikemyr was 2-for-4 (2b, 2 runs), Dalton Hoffland was 2-for-3, (2b, run, RBI) and Brett Skrede 2-for-3. Kollin Burckhardt took the loss on the mound allowing five runs, and seven hits, struck out five and walked four in four and two-thirds innings.
Vikemyr and Ben Froiseth each worked two-thirds of an inning, and each allowed two runs. Vold came on to shut down the Red Hawks in order the seventh, recording a pair of strikeouts.
The Blackhawks kept their hitting shoes on in the game two rout. Hoffland banged out four hits in five at bats, including a double, scored twice and drove in a run, to lead the 15-hit assault. Vikemyr was 2-for-5 (run, 3 RBI), Jacob Strangstalien 2-for-3 (2 runs, 2 RBI’s), Kollin Burckhardt 2-for-3 (2 runs, RBI), Ryan Hannah doubled and scored three runs and Skrede ripped a two-base-hit and also scored a run. Viroqua opened the scoring with a four-run second inning, but G-E-T answered with a four spot of their own in the third, to tie the score. The Blackhawks broke the game open with another four-run fourth inning uprising, and added a single run in the fifth, two more in the sixth and put the game out of reach with yet another four-run inning in the seventh.
Dalton Burckhardt started and worked two and one-third innings yielding three runs on no-hits, issuing four walks, before getting relief help from Andrew Wedwick. Wedwick, a young sophomore, tossed three and two-thirds innings, allowing just one run and one hit, and picked up the victory. Vold made his second consecutive impressive relief appearance of the day, tossing another scoreless seventh inning to secure the VHS win.
Viroqua vs. Onalaska Luther
Senior Jacob Strangstalien tossed a brilliant two-hit shutout, leading the Blackhawks to a 2-0 win over Onalaska Luther at the Park Bowl, Thursday, May 18. Strangstalien struck out five and walked four, facing just 27 hitters in the complete game gem, by far the most impressive pitching performance of the season for a Viroqua hurler.
The Blackhawks gave Strangstalien the only runs he would need scoring twice in the bottom of the third when Vikemyr reached on a one-out single, Hannah walked, Dalton Burkhardt ripped a double scoring Vikemyr and Hannah came in on a fielder’s choice groundout by Skrede. Hoffland stayed hot and with a double, Vold laced a triple and Skrede was 2-for-3. The VHS defense played their third consecutive game without an error behind Stranstalien’s outstanding pitching performance.
Viroqua vs. Black River Falls
The Blackhawks got a measure of revenge from an 11-0 loss to BRF back on May 1, turning the tables on the Tiger’s, with a come-from behind 6-3 win at the Park Bowl, Friday, May 19. The visitors jumped out to a 3-0 lead, with a pair of runs in the first and a single tally in the second, before the Blackhawks began chipping away, scoring twice in their half of the second and tying the game at 3-3 with a solo run in the third. The hometown Hawks grabbed the lead with two more runs in the fourth and added an insurance run in the fifth to secure their third-straight Coulee Conference win.
Hannah ignited the come-back with a clutch two-out two-run single in the second inning scoring Vold and Strangstelien, Kollin Burckhardt pulled the Blackhawks to even at 3-3 with a two-out RBI single in the third sending Skrede in to score.
Hoffland put the Blackhawks ahead to stay with a ripping two-run double into the left-field corner in the fourth, scoring Hannah who had walked and Dalton Burckhardt who had doubled. Vold (run) Burkhardt (2 doubles) and Hoffland (double and 2 RBIs), led the nine-hit attack, each going 2-for-3.
After a shaky start and trailing 3-0 early, Vold came on strong, tossing five consecutive scoreless innings to pick up the win. The strong armed senior right-hander scattered six hits, while striking out six in the complete game victory. It was the third straight solid pitching effort from Vold, who had tossed scoreless seventh innings for VHS in the two G-E-T games. The Hawk defense was solid again with just one error.
Viroqua vs. Westby
The Blackhawks capped off the day and the week with a 6-4 win over arch-rival Westby, following the BRF contest. Hannah opened the game with a lead-of single to right and later scored on a fielder’s choice groundout by Dalton Burkhardt. The Blackhawks made it 5-0 with a four-run second inning highlighted by a run scoring triple into the left-field corner by Vikemyr and a two-run single to center by Dalton Burckhardt. The Norsemen pulled to within 5-1 with a run in their half of the third but Hannah delivered a run-scoring single in the fourth to give the Hawks a 6-1 cushion. Westby answered with a three-run fifth, but could get no closer and the Hawks win streak was extended to four games, all in the Coulee Conference.
Vikemyr, a VHS sophomore, had the best day of his varsity career, going 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and scoring two runs. Hannah was 2-for-3 (run), Dalton Burckhardt chipped in with three RBIs and Vold cracked a double.
Wedwick earned his second win in four days, allowing four runs and six hits, striking out four and walking just one, in six innings of work. Max Dach came on to get the save, tossing a scoreless seventh.
For the week, the Blackhawks posted a 4-1 record, while banging out 48 hits, scoring 34 runs and committing just four errors. VHS head coach Pete Swanson was pleased with his team’s efforts. “I am not sure why it has taken us so long to get things going, we struggled early in the spring, but we seem to be really coming around lately.”
The Blackhawks (6-6 Coulee and 11-14 overall), seeded No. 3 in the WIAA regionals, were scheduled to play La Crosse Aquinas on May 23 in the regular season finale and will host Dodgeville (4-17) in the WIAA regionals at the Park Bowl, Thursday, May 25, in a 5 p.m. start.
Heading into the tournament, Hannah leads the Blackhawks with a .428 batting average and has scored a team high 25 runs. Vikemyr is the hits leader with 36 and is second in BA at .393, Dalton Burckhardt hits at a .390 clip, has driven in 19 runs and has the team’s lone home run this season. Hoffland, a .362 hitter, leads the team in RBIs with 20 and is tied with Dalton Burckhardt for the team lead in doubles with eight. Vold (1-1) leads the pitching staff with a 2.03 ERA, Strangstalien has the best win-loss record at 3-0 with a 3.91 ERA and Kollin Burckhardt is the leader in innings pitched at 37.3 with a 4.31 ERA.