There was pressure from the oppressive heat, there was pressure from having to defend its number one sectional seed, and then there was the pressure that a surprising Hartland Arrowhead baseball team simply put on the Menomonee Falls baseball team Monday through its endless number of baserunners.
The Warhawks used every form of pressure in their arsenal as they surprised the Indians, 7-4, in a WIAA sectional semifinal match-up in Cedarburg.
"What did they have, 13 hits, 10 runners left on base?" said a disappointed Indian coach Pat Hansen. "They just had runners all over the place and when that happens, every little mistake is magnified. They also had very good approaches at the plate."
Those approaches and that pressure put a surprisingly quick end to the Falls' season on this oppressively hot morning, as Falls finished the season at 27-5, while Arrowhead (23-10) went on to fall to number two seed Germantown, 3-2, in eight innings in the sectional final held later that day.
Falls had opportunities to put pressure on the Warhawks too, as the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI groundout by Troy Kenkel and then after the Warhawks tied the score in the third, they took the lead again with an RBI double by starting and losing pitcher Brendan Paule.
The Indians had an opportunity to expand that lead in the third, but with runners on second and third, big Warhawk pitcher Matt Gaberino struck out catcher Ryan Bowe.
Falls could not manage to sustain the threats, as it would have only five hits on the day and succeed in getting its lead-off hitter on only once in seven tries in the game. In the meantime, Arrowhead got its leadoff hitter on six of seven innings.
"The biggest thing was was that we were unable to keep their lead-off hitter off base," said Hansen. "When that happens, that's not the best way of doing business."
That effort came to the fore in the fifth, as with the score tied 2-2, the Warhawks got the first two hitters on against Paule. A sacrifice later, outfielder Eric Cottrell ripped a double, the hardest hit ball of the game, to the right-center field gap, scoring two runs and giving the Warhawks their first lead of the game at 4-2.
At that point, Hansen replaced Paule with Brett Krause.
Krause got out of the inning without any further damage. It looked like Falls had momentum back on their side in the fifth, when after Justin Johnson got hit by a pitch, outfielder Joel Zyhowski took a Gaberino offering and sailed it high over the left field fence for a game-tieing two-run homer.
But the euphoria was short-lived as the Warhawks immediately seized the lead back on three runs on three hits in the sixth. Gaberino's suicide squeeze gave the Warhawks the lead for good. Arrowhead either failed to execute or the Indians stymied three other bunt attempts.
Falls got runners on first and second in the sixth with two out, but Gaberino got a strikeout to end the threat. The Indians went three-up and three-down in the seventh.
"We had them scouted, we'd seen them a couple of times," said Hansen. "They just got hits."
Paule took the loss after throwing four-plus innings with two walks and zero strikeouts. Gaberino had four strikeouts and three walks.
Zyhowski had two hits including the home run.
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