The Brown Deer baseball team found character in the form of a pair of very young pitchers as the Falcons rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat host Homestead, 5-4, Friday night.
Freshman Ryan Hudson settled in after a rugged start and got the win after throwing five-and-a-third innings, while sophomore Drew Worth pitched an inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief to secure the save.
"They're just a couple of great kids," said Falcon coach Mike Donahue. "I have Ryan in class and he's just fantastic to be around. In fact, the whole group is great to be around and they just continue to work hard."
The nonconference win gave the Falcons an 11-8 record, while for the 11-7 Highlanders, it was double trouble.
They fell in an eight-inning rain make-up earlier in the afternoon at Port Washington, also by a 5-4 score, before hosting the Falcons in the 8 p.m. tilt at Rennicke Field.
"We're running out of excuses," said Homestead coach Ernie Millard. "We're all frustrated right now because we're finding ways to lose instead of to win."
That point was made clear Friday night, as despite an excellent start, some poor baserunning and untimely errors allowed Brown Deer to come back and pick up the victory.
It certainly didn't begin that way for Homestead, as pitcher Tommy Martin pitched his way out of a bases-loaded none out jam in the first with the help of a runner's interference play at the plate.
Catcher Mitch Hauser gave the Highlanders the lead in the bottom of the frame as he singled home Matt Schroeder.
Martin looked excellent in the second inning, as after giving up a leadoff single, he struck out three straight Falcons looking, all on breaking balls.
Homestead looked to take firm control in the bottom of the second as it took advantage of three Brown Deer errors to score three times. Schroeder had a sacrifice fly and then Hauser ripped a two-run linedrive double to left-center for a 4-0 advantage.
But after that point, the wheels started to slip off for Homestead. Martin got the first two out in the third but then gave up a double to Falcon catcher Brett Youngbeck and a walk to third baseman Brian Michalica.
Still, he looked to be out of the inning when he struck out outfielder Evan Naber, but the pitch was a bit wild and Hauser made an uncharacteristic throwing error trying to finish the out.
That mistake brought home Youngbeck with the first Brown Deer run.
That miscue was followed by a throwing error by the Highlander second baseman off a weekly hit grounder by Brown Deer's Sam Kuchenreuther that plated two more runs to make it 4-3.
"We just keep making mistakes at the wrong times," said Millard. "Tommy Martin didn't deserve to lose this game."
Hudson gave up a two-out double in the third but was otherwise unscathed in the frame, and his offense rewarded him in the top of the fourth.
Brown Deer's Sean Andryauskas singled and after a successful sacrifice, the Homestead first baseman was pulled off the bag by a slightly wide throw allowing Jake Schmienz to reach.
Outfielder Chris Smith then tied the game on a groundout to second and Youngbeck followed that by cracking a smartly struck single up the middle to push Schimenz home with what proved to be the winning run.
Homestead had a promising rally going against Hudson in the fourth after a walk to Zac Krause and a single by Kevin Koch. But on Koch's single, Krause tried to take third but Smith made a good throw to Michalica and was tagged out. Hudson then got a groundout and a pop-up to end the inning.
"We struggled defensively on the infield in the beginning of the game, but then we, especially Brian (Michalica), were able to make some big plays later," said Donahue.
Homestead relievers Andy Collins (fifth and sixth) and Max Beckers (seventh) threw shutout ball to give the Highlanders a chance.
And they tried to make it pay off in the sixth as after Hudson gave up a one-out single to Tim Wiencek and then hit Joe Stadler with a pitch in the sixth, Donahue had to turn to Worth for help.
And the tall, hard-throwing lefthander came through getting a clutch full-court pitch strikeout looking and then a flyout to right to end the sixth.
In the seventh, Worth gave up a two-out walk, but then struck out the last man swinging to end the game.
"This just goes to show how even this (WIAA) sectional is," said Donahue. "Anyone one through eight could win it." Both the Falcons and the Highlanders are in the same post-season grouping.
Meanwhile, Millard, whose team started fast this summer but has stumbled in recent weeks as injuries to Beckers and Zach Enea have greatly limited the offense, is looking for help, any kind of help.
"It was easy when we had everybody healthy," he said, "but now it's not so easy. We're just not finding the way right now. We need to start doing the little things right."
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