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'It means the world': Redbirds rally to clinch first state baseball appearance since 2006

De Pere is headed to Fox Cities Stadium! The Redbirds, the top-ranked team in the state, rallied back from an early deficit to beat rival Bay Port in Tuesday's sectional final.
Posted at 9:50 PM, Jun 04, 2024

KIMBERLY (NBC 26) — The De Pere baseball team overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat Bay Port 9-3 in Tuesday's WIAA sectional final, clinching a berth in the state tournament for the first time since 2006.

  • After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the third, the Redbirds turned an inning-ending double play to strand the bases loaded and then tied the game up in the bottom half of the inning.
  • De Pere manufactured three more runs in the fourth inning and put the game away with four in the sixth, including a two-run double from Landon Raygo; Raygo also closed the game down on the mound.
  • Senior star Easton Arendt earned the win on the mound and hit a key solo home run to tie the game in the third inning.
  • De Pere is making its first appearance at the state baseball tournament since 2006; the school is in search of its first baseball state championship.
  • Menasha and Bonduel also qualified for the state tournament, which begins next Monday at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.

After a bowing out in the sectional final round each of the past two seasons, De Pere finally broke through.

"Just being with these guys my whole life, it just means the world, man," senior Axel Donaldson, who had an RBI single in the fourth inning, said. "I just love these guys so much."

"Being able to play another game with these guys just means the absolute world to me," Donaldson added. "We fought through so much to get here. It feels amazing."

Longtime head coach Bob Van Rens commended his team for rallying back after falling behind early.

"Every year we put pressure on ourselves but with this group of seniors that we have I was very confident," Van Rens said.

"We didn't want to be down 2-0 but we talked about that from day one: it's okay if you fall behind, you have to keep battling," he added. "That's what we did today. Over time, I think our guys are better and they work so hard all year round."

De Pere enters the state tournament with a 24-3 record; the Redbirds are the No. 1 ranked team in the state, according to the Prep Baseball Report's Power 25.