By Vern Cahak
A repeat Great Northern Conference championship , a commendable 17-6 overall record and the greatest run production in school history were among the proud accomplishments of Antigo High School’s 2016 baseball team.
A heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Wausau West in a WIAA Division 1 Regional title game ended what otherwise was a satisfying campaign for Coach Scott Farmer’s Red Robins.
Bolstered by a strong returning force of lettermen, the Robins won the outright GNC crown with an 11-1 record, losing only to Mosinee in a 2-1 pitching duel.
During its 23-game 2016 season, Antigo scored an incredible 241 runs, averaging over 10 runs a game, to shatter school records. Among the team’s blowout wins was a 41-1 thrashing of Northland Pines, which nearly doubled the previous record of 22 runs in a 22-1 win over Marshfield in 1971.
The Robins outscored conference foes by a huge 149-35 margin. They swept Tomahawk, 7-5 and 7-4; Medford, 15-4 and 13-3; Rhinelander, 5-2 and 10-2; and Lakeland, 7-4 and 16-2. They also trounced Mosinee, 10-3.
Adding to the success were victories of 16-4 over Holmen, 10-1 over Menominee and 7-1 over Marshfield in the Marshfield tournament.
Three of Antigo’s defeats were by a single run, including a 20-19 setback to Sun Prairie in what is believed to be the highest scoring game in AHS history. The Robins also lost a non-conference game to Waupaca, 5-4. Steven Point and Wausau West posted respective 9-1 and 11-3 wins.
Great Northern Conference Player of the Year Hunter Kirsch led Antigo’s awesome offense with a sensational .446 batting average. He pounded out 29 hits in 65 times at bat, including a team-high eight home runs. He scored 24 runs and batted in 25. In conference play, Kirsch was even more impressive with a gaudy .516 batting average on 16 hits in 31 trips to the plate.
Brady Tatro just missed the .400 hitting mark with a .397 average on a team-high 32 hits in 78 plate appearances and also had the most RBI’s with 26. Max Nowinsky ranked next with a 390 average on 32 hits in 82 at-bats Other regulars hitting over .300 were Nick Greening with .375 (24 for 64), Arin VerHagen with .338 (22 for 65), Jake Husnick with .333 (25 for 75), Colin Meinert with .327 (16 for 49), and Alex Nagel with .322 (19 for 59).
Rounding out the varsity team were Cody Below, Brian Cuevas Ruiz, Jesse Jankowski, Jake Fleischman, Ben Jansen, Matt Arndt, Brett Wilhelm, Garrett Held, Matt Winter, Wade Farmer, Cody Urban and AJ Kirsch.
The impressive Red Robin pitching staff featured Greening (4-2) with a 2.31 earned run average, Tatro (4-2) with a 3.42 and Nagel (5-1) with 4.00.