(WFRV) – The Hortonville baseball program punched their ticket to the WIAA State Tournament for the first time since 1998.

After a scoreless back-and-forth battle between #5 De Pere and #2 Hortonville in the D1 sectional final, it wasn’t until the fourth inning when the Polar Bears scored five runs to give themselves a sizeable lead.

An inning later, Hortonville senior Joe Fischer would hit a three-run walk-off home run to cap off a five-run 5th inning as the Polar Bears run ruled De Pere to secure a trip to the state tournament.

“I was here, actually, the last time we went in 1998. It was my second year as an assistant coach”, Hortonville head coach Greg Yeager said. “This is what you work for — days like today. It’s been our number one goal all season to end the season in Appleton and it makes all the time and effort you put in worth it.”

“I was up to bat and I was thinking ‘Alright, I can end this thing here instead of having to play all seven innings’. I figured why not? Then I did it and I was like ‘That one felt nice right off the bat'”, Fisher said.

Hortonville defeated Appleton North 10-2 earlier in the day making it twice in one day that the Polar Bears’ offense scored 10 runs.

The 2023 WIAA State Baseball Tournament will begin Monday, June 12 until Thursday, June 15 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.