Super sophomores propel Kimberly to state title
GRAND CHUTE (WLUK) -- Cade Hunstiger entered Thursday's Division 1 state title game at Fox Cities Stadium with one start this season, but because of injury the sophomore was getting the ball in the biggest game of the season.
The right-hander handled himself like a veteran, throwing six impressive innings and with fellow sophomore Drew Lechnir driving in three runs, the Papermakers won their first state title since 2007 with a 4-2 win over Sun Prairie, which beat the Papermakers in the 2014 title game.
That's pretty special, I have a a lot of respect for Sun Prairie and Coach Hamilton is an unbelievable coach and that program is so top shelf," Kimberly coach Ryan McGinnis said. "It's really, really neat to be in this environment and to beat them. They beat us a few years ago and when you're beating the best, they're as good as they come and as prepared as they come. I'm really proud of our guys, the relive they show throughout the year.
"It's really special. This is something they'll have to share amongst them forever.
"It feels amazing," Hunstiger said. "I can't put it into words at this point but I'm sure when I look back it's going to mean even More than it does to me right now. This is absolutely amazing."
Hunstiger pitched six innings and allowed just two runs and mainly got the start because Kimberly was without ace Danny Vanden Boom, who's out with a foot injury, and because Davis Matz and John Nett pitched Tuesday in the quarterfinal and semifinal games. Hunstiger pitched beyond his experience.
"Not only did Cade bring some guts, our seniors backed him as he went out there and didn't treat him like a sophomore, so it's good stuff," McGinnis said. "We had a great blend of seniors and sophomores and sometimes you get that and it gets divisive and our guys were very inclusive as you should be or you're not a team."
"I never imagined I would be put in this opportunity and once he said I got the go, I was excited," Hunstiger said. "I was ready to play for my team. With my teammates at my back I was just ready to go. Glad we pulled out the way we did."
Kimberly (23-8) broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with three runs, two coming off a Lechnir hit. Hunstiger opened the seventh inning, but after allowing a base hit, Ryan Carney came in to relieve and recorded the final three outs to get the save.
This marks the third state title won by a Kimberly boys sports team this school year, following football and track and field. Davis Matz was certainly pleased baseball could bring home gold.
"We had a little joke going, football was able to finish the deal and now baseball was finally able to finish the deal and Dan led us great throughout the playoffs being hurt," Matz said. "We were able to finish the job and it's a great feeling for us."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay