Port’s Midshore League youth baseball team takes title in inaugural season
Coaches for the new U14 Midshore Baseball League team in Port Washington would have been happy reaching .500 this season, but instead celebrated winning the league’s championship game in their inaugural year.
The Port Washington Pirates defeated the Kohler White Bombers, 9-6, in the first round and won 16-13 against the Kohler Blue Bombers in the second round of the championship on Sunday, July 22.
The victories came against the two teams Port lost to at the beginning of the season.
“We were able to show that we could really beat them,” said coach Mike Rintelman.
Rintelman, who spearheaded the creation of the Port Washington Midshore team last fall, said he wanted to help fill a void in youth baseball.
Boys just out of eighth grade can try out for a Port Youth Baseball traveling team, but for the players who don’t make the cut or don’t wish to commit to a full summer schedule, there weren’t many options to play organized ball until the creation of the Midshore team.
“I saw so many kids lose interest in baseball, and they were getting into other things. If they didn’t have any other baseball activities to participate in, they wouldn’t play,” Rintelman said.
The Port Washington Midshore League team formed last October.
“We recruited players. We got up to 12 kids that committed to the team and then we were able to get practice time at the Ozaukee Sports Center,” Rintelman said.
Only three of the players had played on a traveling baseball team before.
The Midshore League games gave the players their first real taste of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association rules they will play under in high school baseball, Rintelman said.
“The pace of the game, stealing, leading off and the pitching mounds were different. The kids had to adjust to the size and speed of the traveling games,” he said. “We were really gung-ho on getting them up to speed so they could compete in high school.”
The team practiced for 14 weeks before facing off against teams from Kohler, Plymouth, Sheboygan Falls, Cedar Grove-Belgium, Saukville and Random Lake.
The season got off to a slow start, with Port Washington losing its first two games against the White Bombers and the Blue Bombers.
“Our challenge was putting fielders in the right place,” Rintelman said.
The team picked up steam, winning its next five games in a row.
Rintelman said the players learned a lot during a tournament held in June.
“We were playing against much better competition that you couldn’t make mistakes with,” he said. “We started turning double plays. Our runners were in scoring positions and not looking for walks.”
After the tournament, Rintelman said, the players really stepped it up and improved.
Player Max Noll raised his batting average by more than 200 points. Noll started the season off at .180 and ended at just over .400 with 18 walks.
Will Schanen also improved his batting average by 150 points.
“Will really filled in some gaps since the tournament in mid-June,” Rintelman said.
Rintelman’s son Josh, the starting pitcher, pitched 50 innings throughout the season.
The closing pitcher, Matt Wosniak, also had the most hits on the team.
“For the most part they were out there to have fun and then they realized how much more fun they’d have when they played well,” Rintelman said.
Port Washington ended its season with 10 wins and three losses.
The winning attitudes of the players are still going strong, even in the off season, said Rintelman, who noted many of the teens have asked to play more games this fall.
“We’re going to hold the 14-week practice again this spring so the kids can get ready for high school tryouts by May,” he said.
Rintelman said he plans to coach the Port Washington Midshore League team next year because he likes what it teaches kids and how it adds sporting options in the community.
“When you work hard and support each other, you win and have success,” he said. “This program will only go to improve the quality of the sports at the high school.”
Image Information: THE PORT WASHINGTON Midshore League baseball team posed for a picture following its 16-13 championship-clinching win against the Kohler Blue Bombers on Sunday, July 22. Members are (front row, from left) Steven Barney, Zach Noegel, Max Noll, Kyle Goebel, (back row) coaches Jeff Wosniak and Mike Rintelman, Josh Rintelman, Nick Bath, Gary Kilburn, Ben Blanchette, Matt Wosniak, Will Schanen, Cal Lasecki and coaches Ricky Spenner and Jon Noegel. Photo by Rick Noll