By Mike Ramczyk
One game doesn’t define a season.
That was the message Union Grove baseball coach Nate Meyer hammered home moments after the Broncos’ WIAA Division 2 state championship loss June 13 at Fox Cities Stadium near Appleton.
The Broncos completed one of their best seasons in school history, including a 27-4 record and first trip to the state tournament since 1952.
Moments after the game, Meyer thanked his guys for a memorable run, which included a Southern Lakes Conference championship and a victory at the state tournament.
He took time to thank each and every player, from the starters to the bench guys, and the emotions poured out of the entire team.
Something as special as a state tournament will never be forgotten, and it will always be a bond among roughly 20 players and five coaches.
“One game doesn’t define what these guys did,” Meyer said after the state loss. “It should, but like I told them, they made history just getting here. They put together one of the best seasons in Union Grove history.”
“It’s not going to sink in, but in a couple of days, they’ll see what they did for this community, what they did for this program, they’re going to look back and think, ‘Man, we did a really good job.’ For this to happen in my second year, to have a group like this, everyone worked so hard and came together as a team, that’s why we were here.”
The 12 seniors paved the way, providing a stepping stone for future success. They include Luke Hansel, Chase Bloxdorf, Gavin Erickson, Jack Clark, Mitch Toutant, Carson Lapointe, Owen Erickson, Will Painter, Dylan Mutchie, Cameron Drier, Matt Keller and Jake Zimmermann.
A lot of these guys have played together for a decade, from youth baseball to Broncos Select to high school.
“Friendships,” said senior Owen Erickson after the game. “We’ve been playing together since we were young. We’ve been friends a long time and developed bonds.”
That deep bond, along with a lot of talent, led to a 16-game win streak to end the season before the state final. With solid pitching from Hansel and Zimmermann, Nick Williams, Michael Jocius, TJ Manteufel and others led the offensive charge.
#DontSleepOnUG has been a popular hashtag among Bronco fans and followers this season, and the message along with several other signs filled Fox Cities Stadium. The red and black colors were out in full force to witness the Broncos make history.
Zimmermann described a season in which the Broncos proved the doubters wrong.
“A lot of people put us down,” Zimmermann said. “We weren’t projected to win conference, we did that. We weren’t supposed to get out of our regional, we did that. We weren’t supposed to get out of our sectional, we did that. We just came up short. We changed a lot of people’s minds, and we changed the culture of Union Grove baseball.”
To read the entire column see the June 21 edition of the Westine Report.