Grafton weathers storm on road with Fisk-fueled effort that secures 3rd place in race
The strong arm of their best pitcher helped the Grafton baseball team weather the storm Monday — literally.
And when the threatening conditions that delayed a North Shore Conference game in Germantown finally subsided, the Black Hawks emerged with their most satisfying win of the season.
Riding a dominant mound performance by Conor Fisk, Grafton rallied to defeat Germantown, 5-2, and wrap up sole possession of third place in the final conference standings.
Fisk, a senior right-hander, struck out a career-high 17 batters and allowed only one hit in a complete-game effort. Germantown’s lone hit came on a check-swing single by Ben Seifert on an 0-2 pitch in the bottom of the first inning.
Fisk capped the game by striking out 12 in the final four innings, including four in the seventh after two walks and a wild pitch on a third strike allowed Germantown to load the bases.
“It was a great win for us,” said Grafton coach Brian Durst, whose team finished NSC play with an 11-7 record, one game ahead of fourth-place Cedarburg.
“Conor had an unbelievable performance, and we had to come from behind to beat Germantown in a pitchers’ duel.”
The Black Hawks, who deserve recognition as the conference’s most improved team after going 1-17 last year, faced a tough task against Germantown starting pitching ace Tyler Thicke.
Thicke, a senior left-hander, struck out seven and took a 2-1 lead into the top of the fifth. But Grafton hustled for a tie with a rally started by Skyler Bohn’s infield single.
After courtesy runner Doug Coeur reached second base on a sacrifice by B.J. Weisflog, Robbie Doring tied the game with a two-out RBI single.
When Thicke, who was working with a limited pitch count, left the mound with one out in the sixth, the Black Hawks broke loose for three runs.
Alex Nennig struck out against reliever Brad Stefanski but reached base on a wild pitch. After an infield single by Dylan Mayer, C.J.
Koehler’s grounder was misplayed, allowing the go-ahead run to score and putting runners on second and third.
Bohn’s sacrifice fly drove in a run, and a throwing error on Weisflog’s grounder brought home another to make it 5-2.
As soon as Grafton’s half of the sixth ended, the teams left the field while storm clouds rolled in and warning sirens sounded. It appeared the game, which was the twice-postponed makeup of a contest first scheduled for June 15, might be delayed again.
“We kept playing for a while, but we had to wait another 30 minutes before it was safe to go back out,” Durst said. “The umpires looked like they might call it, but we really wanted to keep going.”
The delay raised some questions about how effective Fisk would be with his pitch count nearing 100. However, he fanned the side in the bottom of the sixth and worked his way out of a jam in the seventh to end the suspense.
“It did take away some of our momentum, but Fisk came out just as strong,” Durst said. “We knew we had to win it right there because you never know what might happen if we had to wait for another day to finish it.”
Germantown, which finished 7-11 in conference play, made the Black Hawks sweat by manufacturing a pair of runs.
Grafton took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Weisflog singled, was bunted to second base, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on an errant pickoff throw.
However, Germantown pulled even in its half of the first. After Seifert singled, he stole second base, was sacrificed to third and scored on a throwing error.
In the third, the Warhawks took a 2-1 lead when Tony Ferrand was hit by a pitch, moved up on a groundout and passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.
“It was a very tough game, but the kids persevered,” said Durst, who singled out the spark-plug play of Weisflog for keeping Grafton’s offense charged.
As the Black Hawks’ leadoff hitter, the junior reached base in the first inning in 12 of their 18 conference games this season and scored seven times in the same frame.
“It’s really rewarding to do as well as we did in the conference,” said Durst, who hoped his team would finish in the top third of the league this season and did so by trailing only champion West Bend West (17-1) and Nicolet (13-5).
“They’ve worked hard and are certainly deserving of finishing where they did.”
Fisk ended conference play with a 7-1 record and two saves, and an earned-run average of 1.15. He struck out 103 in 67 innings.
The win improved Grafton to 16-9 overall.
CONOR FISK struck out 17 batters and allowed only one hit as Grafton defeated Germantown, 5-2, on Monday to secure sole possession of third place in the final North Shore Conference standings. Photo by Sam Arendt