Offensive fireworks abound as Grafton baseball team puts hit on Homestead, Nicolet
No one can accuse the Grafton High School baseball team of lacking punch at the plate — especially after last week.
All the Black Hawks did in a pair of North Shore Conference wins was pound out 27 runs on 30 hits, including a 16-14 slugfest victory over Homestead at Rennicke Field on Friday.
Facing a 5-3 deficit, Grafton exploded for four runs in the fifth and nine runs in the sixth. The fireworks staked the Hawks to a 16-7 lead, just enough for them to escape after Homestead countered with a seven-run sixth.
“It was one of the most challenging games I’ve ever had to coach,” said Grafton coach Brian Durst, whose team evened its league record at 4-4.
“It was real wild. Both sides kept fighting back and deserve a lot of credit for being so resilient.”
Despite committing five errors, Grafton prevailed by unleashing a 14-hit attack. Five Hawks each had at least two hits, led by Choo Weisflog, who was 3-for-5 with four RBI and four runs scored.
Grafton’s other offensive leaders included Beau Benzschawel (3-for-4, three RBI), Nate Lukas (2-for-5, four RBI), Al Nennig (2-for-2, two RBI) and Brett Rasmussen (2-for-3).
Trailing by two runs after four innings, the Hawks surged ahead for good in their next at-bat.
Weisflog started the rally by reaching on an infield error, stole second base and scored on a single by Nennig. After Benzschawel walked, Lukas launched a three-run homer over the fence in right-center field to put Grafton up, 7-5.
“It was a majestic, towering shot that would have been out anywhere in the park,” Durst said of Lukas’ first career homer.
Refusing to quit, Homestead scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game.
Then the real fireworks started.
In the top of the sixth, Grafton scored nine runs on six hits, two walks and an error.
Brett Ramussen, who pitched the first three innings for the Hawks, re-entered the game and led off with a single.
When Will Birch’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away, Grafton had runners on second and third. Weisflog drove in a run with a fielder’s choice, and Nennig doubled home another to make it 9-7.
Benzschawel, Lukas and Brad Parsons followed with singles, upping the margin to 11-7. After Bryan Sternig reached on an error to load the bases, Ramussen and Birch each drew RBI walks.
Weisflog capped the flurry with a three-run double, giving Grafton a seemingly safe cushion.
Remarkably, Homestead kept slugging and nearly tied the game in the same inning. The Highlanders sent 12 batters to the plate and collected seven hits off three pitchers.
Jake Erfourth’s two-out, two-run double off the right-field fence narrowly missed being a grand-slam homer, leaving Grafton clinging to its final margin of victory.
When neither side managed a base runner in the seventh, the Hawks were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
“It was a very big win to close off the week,” Durst said.
Nathan Koehler got the win with two innings of relief work, and Weisflog earned a save.
The loser was Mitch Sutton, against whom Grafton did most of its damage in the sixth.
Grafton 11, Nicolet 1 (6 inn.)
The host Hawks pulled away by scoring nine runs in the final three innings of a game called on the mercy rule June 13.
Grafton held a 2-1 lead after three innings and tacked on two runs in the fourth, three runs in the fifth and four runs in the sixth.
In the fourth, Sternig had an RBI double, and Rasmussen’s RBI single made it 4-1.
In the fifth, Nennig tripled home a run and scored on an errant throw. Lukas added an RBI double, and Brad Parsons drove home a run with a groundout.
The Hawks secured a walk-off victory in the sixth. After Nennig laced a two-run triple, Benzschawel drove him in with a single and scored on a hit by Lukas.
Lukas finished 4-for-4 with three doubles and an RBI. The junior also pitched a complete game, scattering four hits, striking out five and walking two.
“Nate Lukas was the story with his offense and pitching,” Durst said. “He had an awesome game.”
Grafton finished last week with its fifth win in five games, setting the stage for what Durst hopes will be a resurgent second half of the season.
This week, the Hawks were scheduled to continue NSC play by facing Whitefish Bay on Monday and West Bend West on Tuesday and traveling to Cedarburg on Thursday for a 5:30 p.m. game.
Grafton will then play 5:30 p.m. contests at home against Slinger on June 24 and at Germantown on June 25.
Image Information: A 3-FOR-5 HITTING PERFORMANCE by Choo Weisflog helped the Grafton baseball team outslug Homestead for a 16-14 victory in North Shore Conference play last Friday. Photo by Sam Arendt