Brookfield Central Lancers finish the season on top of mountain
Overcome poor stretch to win state championship
When you are picked to win the state championship at the beginning of the year — and then you do — you would assume your team had the perfect season.
Brookfield Central won the WIAA State Summer Baseball Championship on July 25. But one bad stretch — three straight losses to Marquette (3-1), Menomonee Falls (5-2) and Oak Creek (3-0, no-hitter) and five losses in their last six conference games — cost them the Greater Metro Conference regular season title. The last three games of that stretch included a 1-2 mark in the GMC tournament.
Central, which began the season 21-1, finished 14-4 behind co-champions MUHS and Oak Creek, each with 15-3 records.
They finished with two non-conference wins, sitting at 24-6 as the regular season came to a close.
The Lancers had one final chance to redeem their season — and they did that — winning their final five games on the way to the state title to finish 29-6.
They received a first-round bye before Matt Ausloos beat Kettle Moraine, 1-0, to win the WIAA Regional Championship on July 18. They then beat Pewaukee, 6-1, and Sussex Hamilton, 4-0, behind Elijah Goodman and Luke Sommerfeld, to win the WIAA Sectional Championship.
At the state tournament at beautiful Kapco Park in Mequon, Goodman defeated Plymouth, 2-1, in the semifinals and then blew out Homestead, 9-2, as Ausloos relieved Sommerfeld and was flawless the final six innings.
Coach Jeff Bigler, who won his first title for Central in his 12 seasons, looked back and talked about his team's run.
"It could have been a good thing we took the hits when we did if you can see in retrospect," he said. "Marquette won (shared) the conference title, winning something like 21 in a row. Maybe they were overconfident (losing to Hamilton in the sectional final). Obviously we were not. We were in the dirt, scratching and crawling and doing anything we could to win."
Bigler admitted it hurt to lose the conference championship, but in the end things worked out.
"To give away the conference title (was tough)," he said. "I was also disappointed in the way we reacted to the losing, that it took as long as we did (to snap out of it).
"It was so much more special to make sure we got the job done; that's what mattered the most."
Bigler brings in Ralph Mierow once a week during the season to speak to his team. Mierow is an assistant Central basketball coach and first base coach Jeff Mierow's cousin.
"We've been doing this the past four or five seasons," he said. "It's a life sessions speech. He gives a perspective that high school kids don't get because they're so young. He give these kids pearls of wisdom. He talks with the guys about special things. It helps."
Goodman agreed with his coach.
"He talked about perseverance and what it takes," Goodman said about one of Ralph Mierow's life lessons talks during the Lancers' tough stretch.
This was a key season for Bigler's Lancers, as they will be losing 11 seniors — Goodman, Luke Sommerfeld, Matt Ausloos, Riley Richarz, Aaron Hammond, Josh Peltier, Andrew Schneider, Jake Harley, Matt Liewen, Gunnar Malensek and Tommy Consolazione.
Bigler will have nine juniors coming back — Jonathan Keane, Riley Keays, Mike Rufer, Ben Gerhard, Jarred Shipman, Matt Hodges, Zach Schmidt, Keith Nakamura and Aaron Heckman.
The Lancers had Goodman (P, Flex), Richarz (IF) and Sommerfeld (Utility) on first-team all-conference; Ausloos (P) and Keane (IF) were second team; and Hammond (IF) was honorable mention. Sommerfeld was also a scholar-athlete.
By winning the state title, it was the Lancers' fourth, which tied Oak Creek for the most in the state.
As Bigler said earlier this year, "People were asking 'What's wrong with Brookfield Central?' Obviously nothing was wrong with Brookfield Central."
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