Falls baseball coach Pat Hansen credited pitcher Ben Burns for his nine-plus inning effort against Arrowhead in the thrilling season-ending, 4-3, 10-inning loss in the WIAA sectional semifinals Friday in Germantown.
"Absolutely a fantastic effort," Hansen said, also highlighting his team's defense for making one sound play after another in what he felt was a "spectacularly" routine effort.
He also praised Alex Sutherland for his two-run double and Adam Rubatt for his run-scoring single in the third off of Arrowhead starter Justin Mortenson (four innings and four strikeouts), which gave the Indians a momentary 3-2 lead on the Warhawks (31-5).
Arrowhead tied the score in the bottom of the third.
Catcher leads team to victory
But then Hansen looked deeper and gave kudos to his opponent, especially Warhawks reliever Jordan Paszek, who didn't give up another run from the fourth inning on (six strikeouts and two walks), and Arrowhead senior catcher Karl Sprung.
Sprung was 5-for-5 in the game, including a rocket shot of a home run over the right field fence on the first pitch of the 10th inning for the game-winner.
"You know, all his hits prior to that were to left," Hansen said, "so we thought we'd go inside on him and try and make him hit it to right, but he was smart enough to be looking for that. He even told his coach (Tim O'Driscoll) he would hit it out if we gave him an inside fastball, and he did.
"They just have a lineup that puts a lot of pressure on you consistently. It's very hard to pitch around anyone (the Warhawks have a team batting average of .349). You really don't get a break at all."
And still Burns and the Indians (28-10) held Arrowhead in check for six innings as the season ended in a familiar way.
"I tell you, we lost 10 times, and I think nine of them were either by one run or in extra innings," Hansen said.
The outcome also served as a bit of vengeance for the Warhawks, as the Indians had beaten them, 12-3, in a nonconference game earlier this summer.
"I tell you, I don't think they've seen a team like ours all year," Hansen said. "They went unbeaten in conference (Classic 8), and I don't think they lost a meaningful game all summer."
Bunts don't fall for Indians
Hansen said Burns showed a lot of character in his effort.
"You look to see if the ball is getting up or if he's falling behind hitters," Hansen said, "and he didn't show any of those signs of fatigue. He said he wanted the ball every inning. … I would have liked to have seen us get a bunt get down when we had chances (Falls had runners in scoring position in each of the ninth and 10th innings) but they (the Warhawks) made the plays."
Both teams committed just one error in the contest, and Carter Ypma and Donny Matovich each had two hits for Falls.
Hansen also commended the huge fan base that came out to Germantown to support the Indians. He said that was an extension of what had been going on all summer.
In the WIAA regional final July 21, the Indians needed all the fan support they could get in their final home game of the summer, as they had to rally past Slinger, 7-6, in nine innings. Falls trailed, 6-4, going into the seventh before tying the score and finally won it on catcher Max Poeske's two-out single in the ninth.
"I just couldn't believe how many people were at that game," Hansen said.
- Steven L. Tietz
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