With upset victory over front-running Cedarburg, Grafton still has shot at first
The Cedarburg Mercs are still in the driver’s seat to win another Northern Division baseball championship, but it isn’t coming easily.
Second-place Grafton kept its slim title hopes alive last Sunday by rallying to upset the Mercs, 5-4, in a 10-inning Land O’ Lakes game.
Host Grafton, which improved its division record to 13-4, faced a 3-0 deficit entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
After the Express scored four times in the top of the frame to take a one-run lead, Cedarburg (14-2) tied the game in the eighth.
In the ninth, the Mercs loaded the bases, but Grafton ended the threat by turning a double play.
That set the stage for a 10th-inning comeback. After the Express loaded the bases on an error, intentional walk and infield single by Max Pruefer, the winning run scored on a wild pitch by reliever Taylor Piel.
Pitcher Zach Lauterbach held Grafton in check through the first six innings. But in the seventh, the Express broke through and scored their first run on a bases-loaded passed ball.
After Andrew Doring hit a two-run single, Mike Pruefer added an RBI double to put Grafton up, 4-3.
Cedarburg pulled even in the eighth on Lauterbach’s sacrifice fly.
Reliever Nick Wycklendt pitched the final three innings for the win.
The Mercs outhit Grafton, 13-6, led by three hits from Ross Zahour. No Express player had more than one hit.
Despite the loss, the Mercs only have to win one of their final two games this week to clinch the division title. They will host Saukville on Saturday and play at West Bend on Aug. 5.
Grafton has one regular-season game left, a 7:30 p.m. contest at Port Washington on Friday.
If Grafton wins and Cedarburg loses its final two games, the teams will tie for first place. A one-game playoff would be held to determine the champion.
Cedarburg and Grafton have clinched home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the division playoffs, which start Aug. 10.
Highlights of other local division games follow:
Saukville 11, Port Washington 4
The Saints built an 8-0 lead by the end of the fifth inning and cruised to a home win last Sunday.
During a four-run fifth, Saukville combined three hits, two walks and a pair of Port errors to turn the game into a rout.
Port averted a shutout by scoring twice in the seventh. Ryan Romens tripled and scored on Aaron Brockman’s sacrifice fly.
Mike Sherrick had three hits to lead the Saints, who improved their third-place record to 10-6.
Romens and Josh Stanisch each had two hits for the Lakers (3-13).
West Bend 7, Saukville 1
A big early deficit was too much for the Saints to overcome in a home loss last Saturday.
West Bend raced to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and stretched the margin to 7-0 in the second.
Saukville scored its run in the eighth.
Matt Jacoby and Ryan Modder had two hits apiece for the Saints.
Blake Wiskirchen and Harry Steldt each had two hits for the Benders.
West Bend 6, Port Washington 3
Steldt’s three-run homer in the first inning helped propel the Benders, who withstood a pair of Port rallies for a road win July 26.
Port pulled within 3-2 in the third on Ed Kozlowski’s RBI double and Romens’ RBI single.
But West Bend scored three runs in the fifth, when Steldt hit a two-run double. He finished the game with five RBI.
Port’s offensive leaders were Romens and Stanisch with two hits apiece.
Grafton 6, West Bend 2
The Express scored three runs in the ninth inning to pull away for a road win July 24.
After Grafton took a 3-2 lead into the frame, Jordan Clark singled in a run and scored on Lance Keplinger’s homer.
West Bend trailed early before tying the game with a pair of unearned runs in the third.
Keplinger had three hits to lead Grafton, as did Jack Meurer for the Benders.
Port Washington 3, Saukville 2
The Lakers trailed, 2-0, after six innings before rallying for a home win July 24.
Port tied the game in the seventh on Gavin Locke’s double and a single by Kyle Kichura.
In the eighth, Erik Gotthart walked, moved into scoring position on Paul Smith’s sacrifice bunt and raced home on an errant throw to put the Lakers up.
Saukville took a 1-0 lead on Josh Hein’s RBI double and made it 2-0 in the fifth on a run-scoring groundout.
Kichura had three hits for the Lakers, and Kozlowski added two.
Locke pitched a complete game, striking out 11 and walking five.
Image Information: PORT WASHINGTON INFIELDER Ed Kozlowski sidestepped a West Bend runner in an attempt to turn a double play in a Land O’ Lakes baseball game. Port mounted a pair of rallies but was unable to overcome an early deficit in a 6-3 home loss. Photo by Sam Arendt