|Texas Lutheran honors its former teammate in various ways, including with its play on the field.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
By Austin Walther
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. – You’ll see the initials KB4 on the back of helmets. The pitcher will write KB4 on the back of the mound, and batters will write the same in the on-deck circle.
|Keaton Bohrmann was a first-team All-SCAC third baseman three years in a row.
For the Texas Lutheran baseball team, remembering former teammate Keaton Bohrmann will be no different now than it has been the rest of the season. Bohrmann, who played third base for the Bulldogs, died in a car accident last October, while returning from a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was volunteering his time to cleaning up and rebuilding following Hurricane Harvey.
The Bulldogs have been dedicating this season to Bohrmann, and it’s a season that has resulted in the Bulldogs reaching the Division III World Series for the first time.
- D-III World Series team-by-team preview
- Pat and Jim wrap up Day 1 from Appleton
- Defenses scuffle as UTT takes Game 1
- Game 2: Miseri leaves Macon stranded
- Game 3: Cougars maul Swarthmore
- Game 4: Wooster gets bulldogged
- World Series Day 1 scoreboard
- World Series Day 2 schedule
- World Series record book
- Photo galleries: Game 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Senior outfielder Riley Schaefer said Bohrmann was the type of guy who was always going to be there for you whether he knew you well or not.
“He was the type of guy that you could go to for anything,” Schaefer said. “He would literally give you the shirt off his back. He understood what we had here was a real brotherhood, and it’s a family.”
Bohrmann, who was initially recruited by Texas Lutheran started out his college career at nearby San Jacinto College, a two-year school in the San Antonio area. He transferred after one semester, however, where his father, Klaus works, and where his brother, Klaus Michael, was a baseball player.
The entire family is close to TLU baseball coach Greg Burnett.
“I personally recruited Keaton,” Burnett said. “I don’t normally do that because I usually have a coordinator. I took the responsibility of recruiting him, so I know the family really well. I have a close relationship with him.”
Keaton was a key part of the Bulldogs’ baseball club during his four seasons. He made 17 starts in 29 games during his freshman season, primarily at third base where he was challenged by a gold glover all season. From 2014-16 he was a major part of the Texas Lutheran offense and earned himself All-SCAC honors in each of those seasons.
“He was our three- or four-hole hitter for three years,” Burnett said. “He always had a lot of confidence in his baseball ability. He had lightning bat speed and was really able to create some power.”
Most of the current players were underclassmen during Keaton’s time with the program. Senior outfielder Matt Lemon said it didn’t matter because he knew the potential this team had.
“He was a real high-energy guy,” Lemon said. “He was a great teammate on and off the field. He really cared and was invested in our freshman class a lot.”
Keaton continued to stay close to Burnett even after he graduated. A few weeks before Keaton left for Hurricane Harvey relief, Burnett wanted to know if Keaton would help his son with some hitting.
“He [Keaton] was going to throw some BP to my son,” Burnett said. “He said, ‘yeah I’ll come throw to him.’ He told me, ‘I’m going to go to Corpus for a week or so and when I get back, I’ll give you a call, come by and throw to him.’ ”
Burnett was still waiting for the call from Keaton, as he had kind of disappeared for a while, but Schaefer said that’s something common for Keaton to do.
“We knew that he had been missing for a few days,” Schaefer said. “It was kind of going on around Twitter. Some of us that knew Keaton, knew that he would do something like that.”
After a few more days, it was getting a little serious. Schaefer remembers the day that he received the news of his passing.
“I got a call from one our teammates, and I remember just sitting there and he just dropped the bomb on me,” Schaefer said. “You’re in disbelief because we just saw him a week ago. He showed up to the cage, kicking it and cracking jokes. You go back to the last time you saw him and of course it was at a baseball field.”
With the day and age of social media and smartphones, Burnett really didn’t have to address the team. He said they all got hold of each other, but Burnett will never forget when he was presented with the news.
“There were guys that came by and talked to me,” Burnett said. “I had a hard time dealing with it. I was devastated. I heard it before I started teaching a class. I went in, finished class, came back out and sort of dealt with it.”
The team knew that they had the opportunity to do something special for the upcoming season. Keaton is the type of guy that they really wanted to honor and Lemon said the whole team put something in motion.
“He had an impact on so many people,” Lemon said. “We just took a step back and felt like we could do something special this year and had a good feeling about the season.”
Burnett said he just let the players take control of this situation because it’s not something he likes to talk about a whole lot.
“For me it’s a personal situation,” Burnett said. “I haven’t said much. They came to me and said this is something we want to do.”
Keaton is everywhere that the team goes. Schaefer said that Keaton’s never going to leave the program. He’s a big reason why Texas Lutheran is one of the eight teams at the World Series.
“We have him on our hats, on our helmets,” Schaefer said. “The pitchers draw KB4 on the back of the mound. We take him everywhere.”
Before the Bulldogs got to Appleton, though, a little bit of irony happened. It was like Keaton had a hand in how his team won regionals. Senior outfielder Keaton Boysen knocked in fellow senior and good friend Ben Marvin, one of Bohrmann’s good friends, with the winning run in the final game.
Boysen recalls it was Keaton’s mom who tweeted that he got the game-winning hit, and that they have the same name.
“It was pretty cool honestly,” Boysen said. “There’s some symbolism there. Hopefully it keeps going for a couple more days.”
Burnett didn’t put it together because he was lost in the moment knowing his team was punching its ticket to the World Series.
“I honestly didn’t think about it,” Burnett said. “At that moment it didn’t hit me. I was just trying to be fairly calm and even-keeled. I didn’t draw the comparison, I was just so happy for the seniors.”
Bohrmann would certainly be ecstatic knowing that the Bulldogs are competing to win a World Series this weekend. Schaefer also pointed out that Keaton would be his normal self because of his sociable personality.
“I know he’s got that little smirk on his face that he always has,” Schaefer said. “He just has this grin, you don’t know if it’s good or if it’s bad, but he just always had this look. If he was here with us now, he’d be calling us a bunch of slappys and picking on us like he always did.
“He would be super proud of the work we have done.”