Sweep over Central puts East in good frame of mind before WIAA tournament
Spartans host Waukesha North in regional semifinals
The last couple of weeks have been a little hard on the Brookfield East baseball team.
But if a team had to break a six-game losing streak like the Spartans did on July 6, what better way than with a 10-9 thriller over archrival Central.
And in doing so, the Spartans earned the rare prize of sweeping their in-city rivals three times this season.
"You don't win three games in a season against a good team too often, period," said Spartans coach Bill Woodring. "And though they're young (the Lancers), they will still hit the ball. What I was really pleased with is that all our wins over them were by one run.
"Going way back (to the 1990s and the earlier part of the decade), my assistant told us that they had dominated us, but in recent years we had gotten more competitive. So for us to do something like this, that's an accomplishment we'll take."
Previous wins for East over Central were by scores of 6-5 and 5-4.
Then on July 7, East closed out its regular season with a split in a non-conference doubleheader with Waukesha West at UW-Whitewater's artificial turf stadium. East got the opportunity to play West there because Woodring is an old coaching friend of West's coach Chad Montez, who played his college ball at UW-Whitewater.
East won the opener, 13-3, but dropped the nightcap, 5-2.
The Spartans (10-10 in Greater Metro play and 14-14 overall) looked to build on the weekend success in Tuesday's WIAA regional semifinal that they hosted against 13th-seeded Waukesha South. If they won, the fourth-seeded Spartans would host a regional final on Friday against the winner of the Sussex Hamilton/Wauwatosa East matchup.
The sectional is slated for Monday at Waukesha West.
In the streak-buster against Central, the Spartans fell behind, 6-1, after two innings but rallied to tie it in the third on five runs on five hits including four straight at one point. Sam Brunker, Ryan Rouse, Taylor Lucas and Tom Tushaus all knocked in runs in the rally.
Then in the fifth, the Spartans took a 10-6 advantage with four tallies, as Pat O'Brien gave them the lead for good on a sacrifice fly that was followed by an RBI single from Drew Kehoe and a two-run single by Griffin Lynch.
That was enough for the reliever Tushaus, who took over for starter Dennis Mistrioty in the second.
Tushaus threw four-plus innings of shutout ball, scattering six hits in the process with no strikeouts or walks.
"Dennis had a hard time throwing strikes, so we brought in Tom and what he did was just Tom being Tom," Woodring said. "He threw strikes and more importantly, he threw strikes with his curveball, which I think put them a little off-balance. He's just a guy who comes in and doesn't worry about things."
Even so, it got interesting as Mike Eberle came on in the seventh and surrendered three runs, including a two-run homer to the Lancers' Luke Sommerfeld. It was all too eerily reminiscent of the tourney game the night before, where the Spartans gave up five runs over the course of the final two innings to lose 9-7 to West Allis Hale.
"I was feeling fairly confident," Woodring said. "We had a four-run lead, but oh boy, did that get a little more interesting than we needed it to be."
Tushaus picked up the win in relief, as the Spartans overcame a 17-10 hit advantage by the Lancers. Central helped East out with eight walks and two errors.
Subs get in
In the twin bill against West, East won the first game, which was dominated by substitutes from both teams as Eberle got the win. Woodring started team ace Rouse in the nightcap and threw him a couple of innings to keep him sharp for the regional.
In other action last week, Franklin's Tyler Gentz tossed a two-hit, 8-0 shutout on July 3 as the Spartans began the Greater Metro Conference tournament. Gentz also walked six and fanned five to get the win.
The Sabers were leading 3-0 through four innings and then scored three in the fifth and two in the sixth to put the game away.
Rouse pitched the first five innings and took the loss, with Tushaus working the final frame. Although the Spartans didn't walk a man, the Sabers banged out 17 hits.
Can't fend off Huskies
In that frustrating July 5 loss to Hale, the Huskies scored twice in the first, but East tied the game in the bottom of the inning as Brandt Rogers and O'Brien singled to start the inning. Kehoe moved them up with a grounder to second and Lynch ripped a single to center and scored both runners.
The Spartans then scored three in the third inning on a bases-loaded walk to Lynch and a two-run single by Eberle to take a 5-2 lead.
Hale countered with two runs in the fourth to cut the lead to 5-4, but East bounced back and scored twice when Tushaus scored on a wild pitch and Rogers scored on Kehoe's sacrifice fly to left field.
Leading 7-4, the Spartans saw the Huskies rally twice for the win with two in the sixth and three in the seventh.
Each team made three errors, but the Huskies had 14 hits to East's nine.
Rogers scored twice, singled twice and was hit by a pitch twice and stole a base. Lynch singled twice, walked and drove in three runs and Eberle singled twice and drove in two runs.
- With additional reporting by Steven L. Tietz
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