Rivals’ rematch goes the other way

Port’s tight win is one of three one-run losses for Grafton baseball in a week

ORT WASHINGTON’S ELI BUCZEK (above)looked to make a throw against Grafton on June 22
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Five days after losing to its adjacent rivals 4-2 while leaving the bases juiced in the final inning, Port Washington High School’s baseball team exacted its revenge.

The Pirates on June 27 — playing at Grafton as the home team due to wet field conditions in Port — pulled out a 5-4 victory with the Black Hawks missing out on a final-inning opportunity.

Nursing the one-run lead in the top of the seventh, closer Marcus Schmidt walked the leadoff hitter and allowed a double to the second man up.

With runners on second and third and no outs, Schmit was going to face the No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters.

Schmit first got a strikeout, then got a ground ball to third. Rob Ross fielded the ball cleanly and fired to catcher Nolan Mueller, who tagged the runner and prevented the tying run.

Schmit then got a fly out to end the game.

“Marcus was able to step up and get out of it,” coach C.J. Koehler said.

“It was a matter of who was going to produce the runs when the opportunities were there, and Port did a better job than we did,” Grafton coach Brian Durst said.

The Pirates, Koehler said, had an “offensive outburst” with 13 hits.

Mueller was 3-for-4, Michael Murphy and Nolan Large each 2-for-3 and Noah Prom 2-for-4. Daniel Barney had a double.

Mueller, Schmit, Murphy and Large each had an RBI.

“That was awesome to see,” Koehler said.

“It was up and down the order. Eight of the nine guys in the lineup had a hit.”

The Pirates had runners on in every inning, stranding the bases loaded once and leaving a man on third twice.

Zach Uselding started for Port and went four innings, allowing no walks while striking out three. It was the third time he threw in five days.

“He did exactly what we needed out of him,” Koehler said.

Grafton started Zach Brandenburg, who allowed two earned runs and scattered 11 hits while whiffing three and walking two in six innings.

“Brandenburg threw an outstanding game for us,” Durst said.

At the plate, Jack Pawlak  was “hitting the ball all over the park” in going 4-for-4 with three doubles, he said. Zach Merkle had two RBI and Brandenburg had one.

Port followed the game with a forgettable 8-1 loss at Homestead and then a heatbreaker of its own, a 5-4 loss in eight innings at Wauwatosa East on Friday.

Up 2-1 in the seventh inning, Port loaded the bases with no outs but didn’t score.

East plated one in the seventh to send the game into extra innings.

In the eighth inning, Port scored two runs but left the bases loaded again.

East came back with three runs to win the game.

“We’re not stepping up and getting clutch defensive plays and hits,” Koehler said.

Schmit went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Ross came into the game late and got a hit and drew a walk.

Freshman Joe Yandry started and “threw great for us again,” Koehler said. In five innings, Yandry allowed one run and a walk while striking out four.

On Saturday, the Pirates lost to their old North Shore Conference rival Germantown, 12-2, in six innings on the road. Port allowed four runs in the first inning and five in the second. Mueller went 3-for-3.

Port (2-11 NSC, 4-19 overall) was to play at Cedarburg on Monday, at West Bend East on Tuesday, at Whitefish Bay on Thursday and against Cedar Grove-Belgium on Friday.

Grafton drops some close calls

The Hawks stranded 13 runners in the rain and fog on June 26 at West Bend East.

Along with four errors, that added up to a 6-5 loss.

The Suns won on a walk-off squeeze bunt.

Durst pulled Jacob Aleknavicius early after he allowed four runs in the first inning. The Hawks’ defense helped the effort with three errors.

Zach Merkle went the next 4-1/3 innings, a career-long outing, “and shut down East’s offense through the middle of the game and saved our pitching for the rest of the week,” Durst said. Merkle allowed one run while walking five and whiffing two.

At the plate, Merkel was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Matthew Tietz was 2-for-3 with a run scored.

A day after the Port game, Grafton lost its third straight heartbreaker, this time at NSC leader Kewaskum, 1-0.

Cole Superenant allowed two hits in 6-2/3 innings, one each to Merkle and Lucas Gosewehr.

Facing one of the hardest throwers in the conference served as a wake-up call for Grafton’s young hitters and gave the veterans all they could handle, Durst said.

The Hawks’ countered with Aleknavicius, who took the tough loss in the “best varsity game” he pitched all year, Durst said.

In 5-2/3 innings, Aleknavicius allowed one run and three hits and no walks while striking out three.

“It was just an absolutely wonderful performance out of him against a tough lineup,” Durst said.

The Indians got their run in the first inning. After a two-strike base hit and steal of second, the next batter hit a grounder to third base. The runner was going and Grafton had a play, but instead took the out at first. The next batter got an RBI single.

“Every run matters, every base you can save, keeping runners out of scoring position — all those little things in baseball add up, especially against the top teams,” Durst said.

On Saturday, Grafton won and lost one game each in the heat and humidity at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The Hawks only got three hits in a 9-0 loss to Whitnall before demolishing Greenfield, 20-1.

In the second game, freshman Nathan Woolf pitched all five innings, allowing one run and three hits while walking none and whiffing one. It was his varsity debut.

“He just did a tremendous job on the mound,” Durst said, “seeing his poise and the way he approached the game and attacked hitters.”

In his first varsity at-bat, Woolf lined a shot to center for two RBI.

Merkle hit a no-doubt grand slam to left field, and Brandenburg had three hits, two RBI and two runs and was a homer short of the cycle. Tietz went 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs. Wolf ended 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI.

Grafton (7-6 NSC, 11-9 overall) was set to host Nicolet on Monday, West Bend West on Tuesday, Homestead on Thursday and Random Lake on Friday.

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