Indians capture GMC tourney title
Falls seniors keep adding to athletic accomplishments
Menomonee Falls — For the entirety of the 2009-2010 school year at Menomonee Falls, the good, excellent and sometimes superior efforts of the boys senior class (with some well-noted aid from underclassmen), the sum has always been greater than the total of the individual parts.
Would All-Suburban Football Player of the Year running back Cole Myhra been able to play on the carpet of Camp Randall in the state finals if the defense, led by Joe Henningsen, Tony Nelessen and Tony Guagliardo, had not been able to stop anyone?
I don't think so.
In basketball, everyone knows about the all-world sophomore and All-Suburban POY J.P. Tokoto, but Tokoto knows more than anyone else that there would have been no Greater Metro Conference championship or run to the sectional finals or sell-out crowds, if seniors like John Cording, Conor Cassidy and Jonathan Phillips weren't around to do their jobs.
And in track, three-time state champion Matt Widule would have certainly repeated as high hurdles titlist, but his name would not be in the state record books for the 800 relay without the contributions of seniors Brad Tietyen and Travis Townsend and sophomore Matt Christensen.
So why should things have been any different for the baseball team, which emphatically proved that there is indeed no "I" in team, when it won three thrilling and well played one-run decisions in as many days to claim the GMC Tournament title July 12-14?
This first conference baseball title for the team in three years was built on that same kind of unselfish attitude the other championships were built on.
The evidence is overwhelming.
Rubatt in relief
At the top of the list is starter Adam Rubatt coming out of the bullpen three times in a row, throwing seven innings of shutout ball and earning two wins and a save in the process.
"We just came through so many times," he said. "I think we did it like three times alone in (the) Marquette (game, an 11-10 semifinal victory). … You've got to love situations like that."
And if there would have been a hypothetical GMC Tourney MVP, Rubatt would have probably shared the award with hard-charging outfielder Myhra, who burned mile-after-mile on his car going back and forth between Whitewater where the WFCA All-Star football team is practicing and Trenary Park, where the Indians had the good fortune to play all their tournament games.
"I have to admit, I'm a little gassed," laughed Myhra.
All Myhra did was get on base six times and knock in the winning run in the 10-inning 3-2 quarterfinal win over Sussex Hamilton and then get three big hits against Marquette in the semifinal. Then in the title game on July 14, he earned two walks before hitting a booming double that started the critical two-run rally in the sixth that eventually gave the Indians a 5-4 triumph over Franklin.
"It's just unbelievable the sacrifices that boy made this week," said Coach Pat Hansen.
Clutch hitting, defense
And there were other people who performed small heroics, including third baseman Carter Ypma, who came up in the sixth inning of the title game with Franklin on July 14, with the score tied, 4-4, and runners at the corners.
He watched in horror as a teammate got picked off of first, but that only intensified his focus, as he proceeded to drop down a perfect bunt up the first-base line that allowed junior Corey Volden to score the eventual game-winning run easily.
"I had struggled at the plate earlier so I wanted to do something to redeem myself," said Ypma. "I could have been really down on myself, but I told myself to stay positive. After the pick-off, all I wanted to do was get that bunt down."
And then there were people like second baseman Ryan Romens, whose hustle on a deflection play in the ninth inning of a 3-2, 10-inning quarterfinal victory over Hamilton on July 12 was worthy of an ESPN web gem.
As was that of junior first baseman Joe Sanicola an inning later when he took a sure double away from a Charger hitter making a back-handed stab down the line before making the flip to Rubatt covering.
Sanicola wasn't done, as in the final on July 14, he pitched four scoreless innings of relief, keeping the Indians in the game when Franklin threatened to break it open in the second inning.
Sanicola himself got help from junior pitcher Logan August, who struggled in his start against Marquette, but who got two critical pop-outs with men on base against Franklin in the sixth, including Saber outfielder Evan Walton, who had boomed a three-run home run in the second inning to put Franklin ahead.
And Hansen wouldn't want anyone to forget light-hitting, but smooth-fielding shortstop Ryan Furrer, who in a rare chance at the plate in the Marquette game, had a bunt single, a two-run double and a sacrifice bunt.
"This was a little like football," said Myhra of the Indians state finals run last fall. "We never had any quit then and we still don't now. We've just got a lot of seniors out there (eight) who just don't want to lose."
"The senior class just had so many good athletes every season," said Ypma, who also doubles as a top-notch hockey player. "So it was great that we could get another one (title)."
A well earned one in Hansen's mind.
He pointed to a moment after the Indians last loss before this current 10-game winning streak, when he and the coaching staff talked to the team about avoiding peaks and valleys, of visualizing themselves at their best moments and then trying to repeat it.
"We talked about at-bats," Hansen said, "and I asked them to remember their best at-bat they had in their lives whether it was when they were 10 years or whether it was yesterday."
"Use that as a confidence builder. You did it before, you can do it again."
Which the Indians hope to continue doing during this week's WIAA state series of games with a state tournament berth on the line.
"We showed the ability to come back and persevere," Hansen said. "I can't say how much this can potentially do for us down the road."
"We" and "Us," good words to use in terms of a championship.
Indians look to get back to state tourney:
WHAT: WIAA sectional play at Germantown on Friday
QUALIFYING: The Indians (30-10 overall) are the top seed in the sectional. They take on eighth-seeded Pewaukee on Tuesday in a regional final. If they win, they take on the winner of Brookfield Central and Arrowhead in a sectional semifinal at 11 a.m. Friday. The championship game is at 4:30 p.m. Brookfield East is the second seed and Sussex Hamilton the third.
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