Tight games are yielding opposite results

Grafton wins three of four one-run affairs; Port is a few big hits from winning four straight games
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The Grafton High School baseball team is no stranger to close contests this season. Four of their last six games have been decided by one run, and the Black Hawks have won three of them.

Last Saturday broke the streak. The Hawks beat West Bend West, 5-2, before losing by the same score in a doubleheader.

In the win, starter Jacob Aleknvicius allowed two runs in five innings. Tommy Lamb closed out the final two innings, whiffing four.

The Hawks scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the fourth.

In the second, Sam Bulgrin went five innings and Carson Chopp went the final two.

The Hawks didn’t score until the seventh inning.

“It was a hard-fought game. We put up a battle at the end. We just stranded way too many runners throughout the game,” coach Brian Durst said.

Grounding into a double play with the bases loaded hurt, as did lining out with runners in scoring position.

“We hit the ball hard. It just seemed to be right at guys,” Durst said.

Against West Bend East, the Hawks won, 4-3, on May 8 and 5-4 on May 7.

On May 8, the Hawks rallied for two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead.

Hunter Schmitt started and went 4-2/3 innings before reaching his pitch limit. Aleknavacius finished the final 2-1/3 innings, whiffing the final batter with a runner on first to end the game.

On May 7, Lamb faced Mike Seaman. Durst Durst said they are two of the top pitchers in the conference.

Up, 2-1, headed into the seventh inning, the Hawks scored three runs that turned out to be vital.

In the bottom of the inning, Lamb reached his pitch count and Aleknavacius had to get the final two outs. A couple of defensive miscues hurt, but catcher Josh Merkle made a key play.

With a runner on second and one out, Merkle blocked a pitch in the dirt and the runner took off for third. Merkle made a snap throw to cut down the runner. Two batters later, Aleknavicius struck out East’s No. 3 hitter to end the game.

The Hawks, 9-7 in the North Shore Conference and 11-7 overall, played at NSC leader Whitefish Bay (11-2) on Tuesday, and host Bay at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. They play at Kewaskum on Friday and host Living Word Lutheran at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Port looking to win close games

Port Washington has lost five games in a row, but only one was a blowout — 13-1 to Homestead on May 8.

The rest were decided by three runs or fewer. The Pirates lost, 3-0, to Homestead last Friday and followed that by being swept by Nicolet in a doubleheader on Saturday, 4-3 and 5-4. They lost at Plymouth, 3-1, on Monday.

Against Homestead, Ethan Bornhofer allowed two runs in four innings. Xavier Deal finished the game.

“Our pitchers are doing a good job getting ahead of hitters, keeping us in games, eliminating walks,” coach C.J. Koehler said.

The Pirates had a runner on second with no outs in three separate innings but couldn’t get the clutch hit to plate a run.

In the opener against Nicolet, Port only managed two hits against the Knights’ ace, who Koehler said has an odd delivery.

Marcus Schmit started and left in the second inning due to arm fatigue. Beau Fleischmann went the final 5-2/3 innings, allowing three runs.

Port scored in the third inning on a Goerge Klassen two-RBI double and its third run on an error.

In the second game, the Pirates took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning and tacked on another run to take a 4-2 edge into the final frame.

After playing a clean game, Port made two errors in the seventh inning, and the Knights pounced for three runs to win.

Joe Yandry started and went five innings, allowing two runs. Rob Ross went the final 1-2/3 innings. Port didn’t yield a walk in either game.

In the sixth inning, Port got RBI singles from Nolan Mueller, Ross and Deal. In the seventh, Patrick Lippe walked and stole second and third before scoring on an error.

Against Plymouth, Brayden Thompson went four-plus innings and allowed three runs. Connor Hoida pitched the final two. They limited the Panthers to two hits.

Port had runners on second and third in three innings but again struggled to get them home.

Port, 3-12 in the NSC and 6-15 overall, played Cedarburg on Tuesday, hosted Waukesha South on Wednesday, is at Cedarburg on Thursday, at West Bend East on Friday and hosts Plymouthat 4:30 p.m. Monday.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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