Indians advance with solid 6-1 regional triumph over Slinger
Baseball team is top seed in sectional
Menomonee Falls - With a full week off, the Menomonee Falls baseball team showed little rust on July 13 as it scored in each of the first four innings in cruising past Slinger, 6-1, in a WIAA regional final at Trenary Field.
"It was a good effort," Indians coach Pat Hansen said. "We were ready to get after it. We'd had a good week of practice, and we didn't commit any errors and though we didn't tear the cover off the ball, we had good approaches at the plate."
The Indians (27-4), the top seed in the WIAA Cedarburg sectional, advanced to sectional play that was held on Monday (see separate story).
Indians take early lead
Falls scored one run in each of the first three innings against the Owls (13-17) and then put the game away with three in the fourth.
The Indians chased Owls' ace John Sprayberry (six walks and four strikeouts) in the fourth. Sprayberry had handcuffed 2011 state tournament qualifier Whitefish Bay, 4-2, in the regional semifinal on July 10 with an 11-strikeout performance.
The key hit in the fourth was outfielder Joel Zyhowski's two-out, two-run single down the right field line.
Meanwhile, Falls' Troy Kenkel pitched four-plus innings for the win, with four strikeouts and one walk. Paul Fitzgerald continued his run of strong relief performances with two-plus innings of work (one strikeout and no walks). The two pitchers scattered eight Owls' hits.
Hansen has been extremely impressed with Fitzgerald's work all season. He has pitched 22-plus innings of relief while not allowing a run, and in this game, he came into a bases-loaded situation in the fifth where a run had already scored and got out of the jam. He earned a save for his efforts.
"He's been absolutely incredible all year," Hansen said of Fitzgerald.
Errors costly for Owls
The Indians had nine hits themselves on the evening and took advantage of three Slinger errors. Catcher Ryan Bowe had two hits and scored two runs while Jimmy Kolz had two hits and scored a run and Brett Krause had two hits including a double and an RBI.
Because of their top seed, the Indians had a first-round bye in the WIAA tournament and had been off since July 6.
"We pretty much grinded this game out," Hansen said. "We understood that Sprayberry was a good pitcher but we also knew he was coming back on short (two days) rest, so we weren't overly aggressive and we tried to work the pitch count. We were able to stick to that plan because Troy (Kenkel) threw four shutout innings (before running into trouble in the fifth)."
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