With two impressive wins, Grafton rolls into division finals against defending champion Cedarburg
A daunting challenge awaits them, but the Grafton Express are alive and well in the Land O’ Lakes baseball postseason.
By winning their first two games in the Northern Division playoffs, Grafton advanced to the division final against defending champion Cedarburg this weekend.
The host Express defeated Saukville, 6-1, in last Sunday’s semifinals, eliminating a foe that defeated them twice during the regular season.
Grafton took charge early in the rematch and was never in trouble. The Express grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning and stretched the margin to 4-0 in the third.
Fueling the three-run outburst were a double by Dustin Kesner, a single by Lance Keplinger and a wild pitch.
Kesner added a two-run single in the sixth inning, when the lead grew to 6-0.
Saukville scored its run in the eighth.
Max Pruefer had four hits for Grafton, which outhit the Saints, 11-3. Kesner added three hits.
Grafton pitcher Jordan Clark turned in an impressive complete-game effort, not allowing a hit until Cole Granrath singled in the sixth inning.
In Sunday’s other semifinal, top-seeded Cedarburg blanked Thiensville-Mequon, 2-0.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, Cedarburg will host Grafton in a division final at 1 p.m.
If Cedarburg wins, it will advance to the league’s grand championship playoffs next week.
If Grafton wins, it will face host Cedarburg again for the division playoff title at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18. Cedarburg earned the right to a second home game, if needed, by winning the regular-season championship.
The division playoffs opened with four quarterfinal games last Saturday. Highlights of contests involving local teams follow.
Cedarburg 16, Port Washington 4 (8 inn.)
The eighth-seeded Lakers were no match for their top-seeded opponent in a game called on the mercy rule.
Host Cedarburg held a 7-0 lead before Port fought back to within 7-4. A three-run rally in the sixth gave the Lakers hope.
However, the Mercs answered with five runs in the sixth and ended the game with four runs in the eighth.
Cedarburg outhit the Lakers, 12-5.
Grafton 6, West Bend 1
Miles Mayer pitched a complete game, scattering five hits, to lead the second-seeded Express to an easy victory.
Mayer stuck out five and walked two.
Grafton built a 5-0 lead by scoring once in the first inning and twice in both the third and fifth.
Brian Durst’s two-run single in the third gave Mayer all the offensive support he needed.
Seventh-seeded West Bend got its run in the sixth.
Durst, Keplinger and Pruefer each had three hits for Grafton.
Saukville 17, Howards Grove 10
Granrath smacked a pair of homers to lead the third-seeded Saints to a comeback win at home.
The game was close early, with sixth-seeded Howards Grove holding a 3-2 lead in the second inning. However, Granrath hit homers in the first two frames to help his team build a 7-3 advantage.
The Riverdogs answered with a six-run fifth that put them up, 9-7, and the seesaw battle continued with Saukville scoring twice in both the sixth and seventh.
Clinging to an 11-10 lead, the Saints ended the suspense with a six-run eighth. Matt Jacoby’s two-run double helped spark the big inning.
Granrath and Ryan Modder had three hits apiece for Saukville. The Riverdogs got five hits from Noah Steines.
Casey Johnson pitched the final five innings for the win.
In Saturday’s other quarterfinal game, Thiensville-Mequon defeated Plymouth, 12-2.
Image Information: A HARD SLIDE got Grafton’s Lance Kepplinger to third base in a Land O’ Lakes playoff game against West Bend last Saturday. Kepplinger, Brian Durst and Max Pruefer each had three hits for the Express in a 6-1 win that advanced them to the Northern Division semifinals. Grafton then defeated Saukville, 6-1, on Sunday to reach the finals this weekend against Cedarburg. Photo by Sam Arendt