WAUKESHA, Wis. - Injured in the Waukesha parade attack, a pair of Waukesha South High School baseball players returned to the field for the first time Wednesday, April 6.
It really did not matter who scored the most runs; Wednesday night's game was about showing what it means to be "Waukesha Strong."
Inside the bullpen at Frame Park, it looked like a game of catch. Considering just how far Tiegs and Pudleiner have come, though, the pregame warmup was anything but routine.
"It means everything. It's been my favorite game for as long as I can remember. It's like my first love," said Tiegs.
"The accident happened. We heard his injuries. They tell you what's going on, and you just think in the back of your mind he's not playing baseball this year," said Donald Tiegs, Erick's father.
Tiegs and Pudleiner were playing in the Waukesha Sough High School band during the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade when they both were hit and taken to the hospital. Tiegs had a broken femur, scapula, vertebrae and teeth. Pudleiner had core injuries and broken teeth.
Tiegs returned Wednesday for the Waukesha South Blackshirts, starting on the mound against South Milwaukee, in front of bleachers full of friends and family who helped him get there.
"I think it's just like the love that my family has given me, and going to PT twice a week has really helped as well," he said.
Erick Tiegs and Tyler Pudleiner
Pudleiner started his first varsity game, too – as Tiegs' catcher. The pair proved that even when life throws curveballs, a little support can go a long way.
"Biggest thing I can say is that it's special we're still here and able to step in between the lines and be able to play," Pudleiner said.
The team's support for the city extends beyond the teammates. Each Blackshirt also had a "23" sticker on their helmet in honor of Jackson Sparks. The 8-year-old was the youngest person killed in the attack; he was hit while walking with his baseball team, the Waukesha Blazers.