The Brookfield Bulldogs received gutty performances from Josh Lemke and Ernest Castro and defeated Cedarburg, 8-4, on Saturday to earn their second straight Land O' Lakes Grand Championship.
Lemke started and earned his third victory in the Grand Championship Series by pitching a complete game against the high-powered Cedarburg offense. He allowed just two earned runs on seven hits.
"Josh Lemke pitched an amazing game and showed a lot of heart and the guys rallied around him," manager Jason Booth said. "They've worked so hard all season and it's great to see their efforts rewarded."
The veteran Castro stayed hot at the plate by going 3-for-3 with three doubles, a walk and an RBI. Castro has been playing with a pulled quad muscle the entire season and gutted out all the extra bases.
The Bulldogs had plenty of hitting support for Lemke and Castro.
Jeff Lueck went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and three RBIs and Scott Booth, who badly pulled his hamstring in a win over Cedarburg last weekend, was 2-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI.
Newcomer Nick Kanavas, who recently signed to play with the University of Arizona Wildcats, was 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI; Andy Monigal was 1-for-3 with a sacrifice and an RBI and Bill Lucyshyn, who has been the Bulldogs' best pinch hitter for many years, got the start in right field with Mike Mierow's departure back to UW-Whitewater, and went 1-for-4 with a perfectly executed bunt single.
The Bulldogs outhit Cedarburg, 12-7, and Brookfield ace Greg Basthemer was in the bullpen ready to close the door but was not needed.
"It was said by many that the 2012 championship was even sweeter than the 2011 title because it was a total team effort," Jason Booth said.
Besides Kanavas, a former Brookfield East star, the Bulldogs lost Rookie of the Year Ryan Hinz to Northern Kentucky University, Dan Barwick to UW-Milwaukee, Mike Mierow to Whitewater and Mike Jacobs to a torn MCL.
And the team was also playing with an injured Lueck, who dislocated his left shoulder and tore a biceps tendon while Scott Booth and Jason Booth battled pulled hamstrings.
Brookfield plays in arguably the toughest division in the state of Wisconsin, the Western Division of the Land O' Lakes, which continually makes them battle-ready for the big games.
With players ready to return healthy in 2013, the future remains bright for the Bulldogs.
"This was a total team effort," Jason Booth said. "We lost players due to injury and college and we maintained that 'next guy in' mentality. These guys just had so much fun defending our title from last season. I'm very proud of them."
ROAD TO THE TITLE
2-0 Western Division Playoffs
Aug. 12 Menomonee Falls, W 8-6
Aug. 18 at Pewaukee, W 14-9
4-1 Grand Championships
Aug. 25 at Rome, W 9-2
Sept. 1 Cedarburg, W 15-13
Sept. 2 New Berlin W 8-4
Sept. 8 at Cedarburg, L 6-4
Sept. 9 Cedarburg, W 8-4
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