KAUKAUNA — Scott Schreiber has a good memory and he remembers how the last three seasons have ended for the Kimberly baseball team — in disappointment.
So Tuesday the Nebraska recruit was going to do everything he could to help lead the Papermakers to their first state tournament since 2010.
Schreiber had three doubles and pitched a complete game during Tuesday’s sectional semifinal win over Hortonville and then later in the day he started the Papermakers off on the right foot in a sectional final against West De Pere by lacing a solo home run.
Schreiber’s teammates followed his lead as Kimberly returns to the state tournament after eliminating the Phantoms from the postseason with a 5-1 sectional final win at Bayorgeon Field.
“He set the tone, he had a great day,” Kimberly coach Ryan McGinnis said. “He’s had a great season. He had a great day offensively and obviously on the mound he didn’t have his best stuff but did what a senior leader should do and get us through that first game and then started us off in the second game.”
“It feels great coming together with these guys, putting in all the work and seeing the results here,” Schreiber said. “We did a great job competing today and just grinding it out and getting these wins.”
Kimberly got a sign early on in the sectional final it might be its day. Schreiber hit a pop-up in foul territory and appeared out. However, West De Pere couldn’t corral the ball, giving Schreiber life.
The next pitch he saw was deposited over the left-field fence, giving Kimberly a 1-0 lead.
“I have to be thankful for that first,” Schreiber said of the play on the foul ball. “I think it was a change-up, he left it over the plate and I got a good piece of it.”
That gave the Papermakers early momentum, which Schreiber knew was big.
“It always feels great to get that first run across the plate there and (starting pitcher) Brice (Swick) took over from there, had a few scoreless innings in a row there and (we) drove in a few more runs,” Schreiber said.
Kimberly scored three more times in the third inning and the Papermakers were in control, but they knew it wasn’t over. In the sectional semifinal win, Kimberly led 6-0, but Hortonville plated four runs in the fifth to make things interesting.
Kimberly eventually won, 9-4, but this time there was no threat. Zwick allowed one run over six innings and Griffin Hawley closed the door on the Phantoms in the seventh, sending the Papermakers back to state.
“This is a great sectional so we had to come out and grind it out,” Schreiber said. “Coach McGinnis has been preaching that to us since Day 1 that we’re going to have to grind it out during sectional day. We came out, gave it our all and had good results.”
“It’s tough, it’s fun and one of our things is don’t flinch in the face of adversity,” McGinnis said. “I thought today we did a good job of not flinching. A day like today you certainly test your mental toughness and well as your skills.”
Schreiber led the football team to a Division 2 state title and now he hopes to do the same in baseball, just in Division 1. Next Tuesday, the Papermakers will play Hartford in a state quarterfinal.
“This is going to be a great experience for everyone,” Schreiber said. “A lot of teams don’t get this experience so we have to take advantage of this. This isn’t the end, we want to be there until the end. Hopefully, we can get there.”
*Sectional semifinal scores: West De Pere 5, Appleton North 3; Kimberly 9, Hortonville 4.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay