Around the first time Trey Krause first began to understand what baseball is all about, his parents bought him a glove — a glove for right-handers.
“I was 3 or 4 years old and they would always give me right-handed gloves,” Krause said. “I would put the glove on my right hand and just start throwing left. They would always try to correct me.”
The only boy among the Krause’s four children obviously knew what he was doing even at the young age. And as the years passed, he gradually became more masterful with the art of using his left arm to confound hitters with an assortment of pitches.
That brings us to the morning of June 11 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute. Krause, the reigning All-Racine County Player of the Year, was pitching against state power Green Bay Preble in a WIAA Division 1 quarterfinal.
And all that Krause had learned over the years — from his father, Tom, from Burlington pitching coach Bob Lee, and from head coach Scott Staude — came into play as he painted his two-hour masterpiece.
Pitching what he considered to be the finest game of his career in his final high school start, Krause allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in a 3-0 victory over a team that was ranked fourth in the state.
While Burlington’s quest for a second state championship in four seasons was ended in the semifinals, Krause’s performance was a fitting coda to a brilliant high school career.
And later in June he went on to repeat as the Racine County Player of the Year, beating out Union Grove’s Luke Hansel 5-4 in a vote by the county coaches.
“He pitched in some big games, come conference-clinching games and playoff games,” Burlington coach Scott Staude said. “But being the starting pitcher two years in a row at state and not getting the victory and this being his last opportunity with everything on the line, I think that was a culminating piece on a great career.”
Everything worked for Krause as he dominated Preble hitters. His 89-mph fastball never had more velocity. Hie curve and slider has plenty of bite. His change-up was deceptive.
For Burlington catcher Skyler Danielson, it was akin to getting to direct a meticulously rehearsed orchestra.
“I liked his confidence in all of his pitches,” Danielson said. “When he was behind in the count, he was still confident throwing his offspeed pitches and he knew he was going to hit his spots.
“Every pitch that I called or that he was going to call, he knew it was going to go right where he wanted it. He was just pitching with a lot of confidence that day.”
And with a great deal of determination. After starting and losing the quarterfinal games of Burlington’s state appearances in 2017 and ‘18 — he got hit hard in an 11-1 loss to Hartland Arrowhead as a sophomore but was exceptional in a 2-1 loss in a rematch against Arrowhead as a junior — Krause wasn’t going to lose this time.
“I didn’t want to experience that again, especially with it being my last year” Krause said. “I wanted to go farther and even though we lost the next game (a 6-1 loss to Sun Prairie), I think it was a good moment for all of us, that we got a game up there and kept laying a foundation for this program.”
No one was more responsible for that than Krause, who has received an athletic scholarship to Illinois State and is already taking classes at the NCAA Division I school in Normal, Ill. When asked if Krause could be remembered as the greatest pitcher in Burlington’s history, Staude didn’t hesitate.
“We’ve had some really good pitchers, some who have gone on to really good college careers,” Staude said. “But we’ve had no one with the accolades he has as far as being a two-time All-State player — this year he was first team and last year he was second team —and he was player of the year in the conference ... yeah, he’s definitely at the top of the list.”
By the way, how happy is Staude that Krause insisted on continuing to throw left-handed as a little boy?
“He’s smarter that his parents!” Staude said with a laugh. “He is always the most intelligent person on the baseball field as far as understanding the game ever since I’ve known him. At every level, he’s always been the most cerebral kid out there.”
- Nate Meyer, Union Grove’s second-year coach, was named the county’s coach of the year after leading the Broncos to their first state tournament appearance since 1952.
The 31-year-old Meyer, a 2007 Union Grove graduate who inherited a 9-16 team when he succeeded Mike Arendt in 2018, rapidly groomed the young players he inherited. Joining forces with assistants R.J. Spang, Ben Miller and Matt Wolff, Meyer guided the Broncos to a 15-9 record in his first season.
And then came this breakthrough season, when Union Grove went 27-4 and reached the WIAA Division 2 championship game, which it lost 8-3 to Antigo June 13.
“It was a great accomplishment, being from that area and trying to accomplish that goal,” Meyer said. “Obviously, I wasn’t able to do it as a player, but to be able to do it as a coach and watch the community come around these boys, it’s a huge accomplishment.”
Meyer will try to keep it going despite losing such key players as Luke Hansel, Jake Zimmermann, Jack Clark, Owen and Gavin Erickson to graduation. New talent will come from a junior varsity program that went 19-2 this season.
“We’re confident that a lot of the guys can come in and take over,” Meyer said. “We’re hoping that we just pick up where we left off, but every year is different. We’ll see what happens.”