Merrill’s Zach Wendorf recently wrapped up what could be described as a dream season-or maybe two-between state tournament appearances in both the high school and American Legion as well as pitching in the All-Star games associated with both leagues.
“It was quite the senior summer, that’s for sure,” Zach said. “It’s a good way to head off to college, with all those memories.
“Both (All Star selections) are really good honors and very surprising. It was a privilege.”
Only the lack of a state championship in promising high school and American Legion seasons could keep Zach from reaching Cloud Nine.
“We always seemed to have that one bad inning in every game we lost,” he said. “We would shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Zach capped off a super-solid pitching performance in a 2-1 nail-biter loss to eventual champion Bay Port in the WIAA State Tournament by helping the West Squad to a three-way tie for second with the North and South in the Wis. Baseball Coaches Ass’n. All Star Classic. He pitched and played first base over the course of the round-robin event.
Then when Post 46 was eliminated after reaching the final four of the American Legion AA State Tournament, Zach took his place on the biggest pitching stage in Wisconsin-Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. There he pitched two innings of two-hit, one-run ball to help the North defeat the South 13-10 in the American Legion All Star Game.
“It was really cool,” Zach said. “Being able to warm up in the bullpen and running from the bull pen to the mound. The mound was 10 inches high exactly, and everything’s just perfect. Everything’s hosed down and grass is cut a certain way.
“Being out in front of 40,000 fans for the national anthem was a lot of fun.”
Zach also hit a double in his only plate appearance.
“They were playing pretty shallow compared to where the major leaguers play,” Wendorf said. “(Miller Park) is twice the size of any ballpark we play in.”
The teams played after Milwaukee defeated Houston 11-6 on Aug. 8. Wisconsin is the only state that plays its Legion All Star game in a major league park.
Zach is believed to be the only athlete in MHS history to be named to the First Team All Conference in all three high school seasons. His choices were football (o-line), wrestling (215 pounds) and of course, baseball. Zach also earned First Team All District and Third Team All State in baseball.
With his high school career behind him, Zach is now setting his sights on pitching for UW-Stevens Point, a powerhouse team in NCAA D3 along with UW-Whitewater. Zach is looking forward to playing former teammates Ryan Leavitt (whitewater), Adam Cordova (LaCrosse), and Chris Lammert and possibly Jared Rothmeyer (both Stout). He won’t see teammate Pascal Paul, who will pitch for D1 Iowa Western, or former teammate Alex Grunenwald, who plays for Chandler-Gilbert Community College, in Chandler, Ariz.