Tyler Wittig- March 11, 2013
When the 2012 season ended for the West Bend 7 Up baseball team this past August, there couldn't help but be a sour taste left in the mouth of many that follow Land O' Lakes baseball and West Bend baseball. A rule so archaic that many in the Western Division of Land O' Lakes banded together to try to get the rule changed. West Bend's Bryant Bullock was ruled as an illegal player after missing a scheduled game to play in a Milwaukee Baseball League game in mid May while not an active member of the West Bend roster. When Bullock returned in late July, West Bend unknowingly played the former all-star, not knowing of his playing in the 'MBL' in May. After clinching the Western Division championship in a last regular season game against the Merton Amvets, somebody contacted the West commissioner Paul Vanden Huevel to alert him of Bullock's participation with another team.
While Bullock's suspension put a cloud over the 2012 season, manager Craig Larsen chose to look at the positive. "People will naturally assume last season was a waste, but I disagree. We lost Mike (Mueller) over the 4th of July weekend, and we continued to battle and fought our way into a position to win our division," Larsen said. "We had guys all over the lineup step up, Matt Parrent and Billy Bynum really played at a high level, and Andrew Mueller really stepped up to become our workhorse on the mound."
While 2012 did not end the way many in West Bend wanted, there were many things that made the season great. 2 statement victory's and a season sweep over the Land O' Lakes Grand Champions, Brookfield Bulldogs, 5 walkoff hits including 3 walkoff homeruns by Billy Bynum, a SWABA 2nd place finish, and a State Ranking.
Larsen is done thinking about 2012 and is already focused on 2013, "We've had solid workouts and practices since early December. Guys have really become dedicated and driven by 2012, and I think the proof should show on the field."
West Bend's squad is highlighted by the return of two of the top players in the area, Mike Mueller and Andy Hetebrueg. In addition, every starter will return to the 2013 roster including once suspended Bryant Bullock. "Real excited about the team we have on paper. We've got just about everyone back, and we've added a couple real exciting additions," Larsen said.
2013 kicks off with a trip to Hartland on April 29th and then the following week makes the trip to Brookfield to face the champs in a game that many in the area have had circled since the end of 2012. Don't tell that to Larsen though, "Goal number 1 is to stay afloat until the college kids return, goal number 2 is make sure that we remain healthy, and goal number 3 is to make sure all the young kids get some atbats and some innings to get them ready for high school season. Ask me about the record and important games at the all-star break at the end of June."
If all falls right, big things could be on the horizon for West Bend baseball in 2013.