Miller recognized for his play at two positions

CG-Belgium earns six selections and Ozaukee four to the all-conference Big East baseball team
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee High School senior Matt Miller was one of the best pitchers in the Big East Conference this season.

It turns out he was also among the best at shortstop.

For the second straight season, Miller was honored at two positions. Last year, he was a first team pitcher and third baseman. This year, he was a first team pitcher and second team shortstop.

Miller carried the Warriors on the mound, earning five wins in six Big East appearances. He walked three of 193 batters, and whiffed 47 of them. His earned-run average was 1.295 with a WHIP of .801.

“He did a lot more time than anybody expected. His production was just outstanding,” coach Steve Kowalkowski said.

Of Miller’s six wins, five were complete games with fewer than 80 pitches.

“He managed the games well. The kids played good defense behind him,” Kowalkowski said.

At the plate, Miller hit .375 with one home run, one triple and three doubles. He had nine RBI, scored 20 runs and went 10-for-12 on steals.

In the field, he made 30 of 35 putouts.

“He came out of the gate a little slow batting,” Kowalkowski said. “He just kept at it and got to where he needed to be at the end.”

Intangibles included being a leader by example.

“He definitely brought seniority to the group,” Kowalkowski said.

Sophomore center fielder Sawyer Kowalkowski made his father proud in being a unanimous selection to the first team.

He hit .500 with one home run, one triple and six doubles. He had 10 RBI, scored 19 runs and went 21-for-22 on steals.

“It’s hard to nominate your own kid and plug him, but his numbers merited what he got,” his father said.

“His bat was outstanding this year,” he said, adding his base running was deadly.

“He’s getting a good feel of reading the pitchers. His desire is to get over as quick as he can,” coach Kowalkowski said.

In the field, Sawyer made 21 of 25 putouts and threw a couple of runners out at home.

The Warriors’ other shortstop, junior Tyler D’Angelo — who played there when Miller was pitching — was named to the second team.

He hit .400 with one home run, two triples and six doubles. He had 21 RBI, 14 runs scored and was safe in all 10 steal attempts.

Kowalkowski said he knew D’Angelo was good but was surprised by how well he played.

“It was a great season for him. He played pretty clean, didn’t make a lot of errors,” he said.

He welcomes having two top shortstops.

“Good problem to have this year,” he said.

The Warriors finished 10-4 overall and 10-2 in the Big East, behind 11-1 Random Lake. Ozaukee lost both its Big East games by one run, 8-7 to Random Lake and 7-6 to Mishicot, and its first-round playoff game, 1-0, to Dominican.

Cedar Grove-Belgium landed two players on the Big East first team, one on the second and had three get honorable mention.

Junior Parker Knight was a unanimous choice at utility, and he played plenty of positions to earn the title.

Knight began the year banged up and couldn’t pitch. He played left field, first base, shortstop and pitched.

“He’s the type of kid who will play wherever I ask him to play,” coach Tom Race said. “He played every position and he played well.”

Knight led the team by hitting .471 with two doubles, nine RBI and 18 runs. He went 15-for-16 on steals.

His fielding percentage was .951 with 47 putouts, 11 assists and two double plays.

In addition, Knight has a high baseball IQ, Race said, and he readily offered teammates advice.

Senior catcher Justin Anzia made huge strides from last season to join Knight on the first team.

Last year, Race said, Anzia had issues with his footwork and hitting.

“Then, he just worked so hard,” he said.

Anzia hit .404 — 100 points higher than last season — with five doubles, 16 RBI and 10 runs as he worked his way up to batting cleanup. He was perfect on all eight steal attempts, and his defense may have been the biggest improvement.

Fewer runners tried to steal on Anzia as the year went on, and in a 2-1 playoff win against Oostburg, Anzia “probably caught the best game I’ve seen as Cedar Grove-Belgium coach,” Race said.

“He just improved so much. He absolutely deserved (first team).”

Junior Jacob Norris, the Rockets’ ace, was named to the second team.

He went 7-5 with a 2.81 ERA, whiffing 58 and walking 17 in 52-1/3 innings pitched with two complete games.

Norris’ 76 to 78 mph pitches hit their mark most of the time.

“He had a good mix of speed and location,” Race said. “I definitely think he was one of the better pitchers.”

At the plate, Norris hit the ball hard, Race said, but right at defenders. He hit .191 with seven RBI. Race said he expects that to pick up next season.

The Rockets’ No. 2 pitcher, Jude Ackeret, earned honorable mention. He went 0-2 with two saves and had a 3.25 ERA. He whiffed 33 and walked 23 in 28 innings.

The sophomore lefty often relieved Norris and got the save in the playoff win over Oostburg.

“If we needed someone to come in, our relief was Jude,” Race said.

Ackeret threw about the same speed as Norris, but “that different look (lefty) threw people off after Norris,” he said.

Colton Sellin earned honorable mention for playing shortstop for most of the season before. An injured finger moved him to designated hitter.

He hit .306 with 12 RBI and 15 runs scored. He went 11-for-12 stealing.

“He’s a .400 hitter,” Race said as he wondered if he should have had Sellin close his open stance to better time pitches.

Sellin hit No. 3 for part of the season but it was when he moved to the leadoff spot that “he took off,” Race said.

“Whebn he was on base, he put a lot of pressure on other teams.”

In the Oostburg playoff win, Sellin got hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a bunt. The throw to first base sailed into right field, and Sellin sped all the way home on the play.

“We won regionals on Colton’s speed in the leadoff spot,” Race said.

Junior Deven Soerens played center field all season and earned honorable mention.

He hit .270 with 11 RBI and eight runs scored. He was 12-for-12 on steals.

“Sometimes he plays with too much passion. He learned how to control that, and by the end of the season boy, did he put some games together,” Race said.

“I was proud of him. It’s not a stat you keep track of, but the last three or four games he played out of his mind.”

The team, he said, rallied around Soerens’ emotion.

In center, Soerens had 18 putouts and three assists. He may move to catcher next season, Race said.

The Rockets went 10-10 overall and 7-5 in the Big East, tied for fifth of 13 teams. After beating Oostburg, the Rockets lost at top-seeded Chilton, 12-0.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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