Denver Evans, a Cambridge senior pitcher, and Carson Knapp, a Deerfield senior infielder, were selected to play in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Classic on June 28-29 in Oshkosh.
Evans led the Blue Jays to a first-place tie in the Capitol South Conference. Evans started on the mound in a 10-inning, 1-0 victory against Belleville in early May and a complete-game, shutout against Wisconsin Heights a week earlier.
It was the Heights game that gave Evans the confidence in the team to pursue a conference title and it was his ability to pitch 9⅓ innings of the Belleville game that gave Evans the true understanding of what he was capable of.
“In that game, we had bases loaded with no outs, and I remember striking out the first guy and then getting the next guy to pop out to right field,” Evans said. “Our right fielder played it perfectly and threw out the runner trying to score from third.
“That really helped me realize that I could just throw strikes and trust the guys behind me. I didn’t have to strike everyone out.”
From there, he was in complete control maintaining an ERA around 1.00 throughout the season before it rose to 1.53 by the end of the year.
“Sheer dominance,” Cambridge coach Larry Martin said. “He ended the season with an ERA of 1.53 and that was the highest it had been all year. His ERA hovered around 1.00. I don’t care what level you’re at, that’s phenomenal.”
Knapp, who also was named to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game after earning Trailways South Conference Player of the Year honors, captained a 20-5 Deerfield baseball team which advanced to sectionals last week.
Knapp batted for a .403 batting average in the regular season with five doubles and two triples in the regular season.
“His baseball knowledge is huge. It’s far above the other seniors,” Deerfield coach Scott Gloede said. “(Deerfield senior) Ben LaRonge is right there as well; but as far as the other seniors go, generally, his baseball IQ is far above those other kids. For him to put that knowledge out there for the coaches to see for four years, that’s huge.”
Though Knapp won’t be playing baseball in college, he’s lasting legacy in a Deerfield uniform will be his final at-bat in a home game for the Demons — it was a walk-off, two-run home run to give Deerfield a 6-4 victory against Barneveld on Tuesday, May 28.
“It was my first career home run,” Knapp said. “Clayton (Mathwig) got on base before me and he’s one of the fastest kids on the team, so if I were to put the ball into the outfield he would easily have two bases and the lineup after me is good enough to get him in from there.”
With his mind at ease, he ambushed a first-pitch fastball.
“I was honestly so locked in that when he threw it, I don’t even remember swinging,” Knapp said. “When I hit it I didn’t even think it was gone, but it was over the center fielder’s head, so I knew Clayton was going to score.
“After the ball went over the fence, it was one of the coolest sports moments I’ve ever had myself. There wasn’t a better time to hit my first home run than my last at-bat during my last home game.”