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Black Hawks finish with a flourish PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Ostermann   
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 18:25

Second-place standing in NSC doesn’t help Grafton in WIAA seeding

A solid finish to the regular season gave the Grafton baseball team a two-game winning streak entering the WIAA playoffs this week.

The Black Hawks also went into a regional semifinal Tuesday, July 12, with a bit of a chip on their shoulders.sports1

Despite blanking Homestead on July 5 to earn a share of second place in the final North Shore Conference standings and thumping Brown Deer, 11-1, last Friday, Grafton took a modest No. 6 seed into the regional semifinals. Four other conference teams received higher seeds than the Hawks even though only one, champion West Bend West, had a better league record.

“It was unbelievable,” Grafton coach Brian Durst said of the coaches’ voting at the July 6 seed meeting.

“We were disappointed, to say the least. We requested a third or fourth seed, but the other coaches didn’t see it that way.

“It’s certainly difficult to satisfy everyone with the seedings, but we thought we deserved to be a little higher.”

Grafton finished the regular season 16-8, including an 11-7 conference record capped by a 3-0 home win over Homestead. The victory left the Hawks tied for runner-up honors with Homestead and Cedarburg, six games behind West (17-1).

“That’s the best finish we’ve had in the North Shore since I’ve been coaching here,” said Durst, who’s in his 16th season at the Grafton varsity helm.

“West ran away with it, but second place was really up for grabs. It shows how much competitive balance there is in the conference.

“We had some opportunities to win games slip away late in the season, but we kept ourselves in the mix and finished strong.”

The host Hawks made the most of their regular-season finale against Brown Deer, pounding out a nonconference win with two big innings on Senior Night.

After jumping to a 5-0 lead with a six-hit flurry in the first, Grafton saw its bats go quiet for the next four frames. However, the Hawks caught fire again with a six-run sixth inning that ended the game on a 10-run mercy rule.

Freshman Zach Merkle made his first varsity at-bat a memorable one by lacing a two-out, two-run single on a 3-2 pitch to provide a walk-off victory.

 
Rockets hot streak hits reverse gear PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 18:22

After four consecutive wins, Cedar Grove-Belgium stumbles in conference play

Cedar Grove-Belgium’s baseball team ended the season on two streaks.

The Rockets won four games in a row two weeks ago — three by double digits — and lost its final four games, including a sweep by top Big East Conference team Plymouth.sports2

Last Friday, the Rockets lost, 3-0, at New Holstein, the Big East’s third-place finisher in a tight race at the top.

Jason von Heimburg went the distance on the mound, allowing two earned runs and seven hits in six innings on 81 pitches. He struck out two and walked one.

“Jason Von Heimburg #6 pitched an excellent game,” coach Tom Race said. “He definitely pitched well enough to win. We had 3 costly errors.”

New Holstein’s Justin Weber was even better, allowing one hit to Matt Dirkse.

“He pitched a heck of a game. New Holstein is a tough opponent,” Race said.

On July 6, the Rockets lost, 9-3, to Sheboygan Lutheran.

Tyler Kraus pitched four innings and allowed six runs (four earned), six hits and four walks while striking out two.

Tyler Falk pitched three innings in relief, allowing three unearned runs, four hits and three walks while whiffing three.

 “As a team, we had four errors. This led to five unearned runs,” Race said. “As a team, we have improved greatly on our defense over the season. Today, we went back to kicking it around.”

Dirkse went 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk. Brett Simmelink was 2-for-3 with a walk.

 
Determined play can’t save Pirates PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Ostermann   
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 18:18

Final game defeat to Nicolet dooms Port to cellar in NSC standings

In a season where wins have been few and far between, the Port Washington High School baseball team went into its final North Shore Conference game of the season with a modest but noteworthy goal.

With a road victory over Nicolet on July 5, Port could avoid finishing alone in last place in the league standings.sports3

Despite a determined effort, the Pirates’ hope was dashed by an 8-7, nine-inning loss that left them 2-16 in NSC play. Nicolet wound up one place higher in the standings at 4-14.

“We had a chance. The kids played and kept fighting,” Port coach Ryan Finnerty said.

“I told them before the game that we had something to play for, and they showed that it meant something.”

After Nicolet jumped ahead, 3-0, in the first inning, the Pirates answered with two runs in the fourth. Things looked bleak for Port when the Knights built a 6-2 lead in the fifth, but it wasn’t a done deal.

In the seventh, the Pirates fought back with a four-run rally that extended play.

“We got some breaks,” Finnerty said. “We also took a few more pitches and went deeper in the count.”

Steve Barney and Jake Huebner started the comeback with walks. After Zach Uselding reached on a fielder’s choice, Michael Murphy struck out, but the ball eluded the catcher, allowing a two-out run to score.

After Kale Knaub and Pat Knowski each drove in a run with a single, a ground ball hit by Tanner Orten was misplayed, bringing home the tying run.

The rally continued in the eighth when Huebner singled, moved to second base on a sacrifice by Matt Wozniak and scored on a two-out double by Murphy that put the Pirates up, 7-6.

 
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