Germantown leftfielder Dylan Krivoshein bided his time last year playing the role of reserve and good soldier on the senior-dominated WIAA state qualifying Warhawks, not complaining, just doing his job and trying to help out anyway he could.
A year later, playing for a new coach and with several top seniors gone, the four-sport athlete Krivoshein has earned himself a starter's role and added responsibilities, such as hitting in the lead-off spot in the order.
A red-hot order as it turns out, as behind Krivoshein's four hits, the Warhawks won their fourth game in as many days and their eighth in their last nine tries as they overpowered border rival Homestead, 10-6, Friday night.
"I think we're just really coming together as a team," said Krivoshein, "and the offense is just doing really well right now. We've all had a lot of repetitions lately so we're seeing the ball a lot better."
Indeed, as it was the third straight game for Germantown scoring in double digits and its fifth in this current streak. The Warhawks improved to 10-6 in the North Shore and 16-8 overall, good for third in the North Shore, while Homestead fell to 8-9 and 15-11, respectively.
"We have just come a long ways since the start of the season," said first-year Warhawk coach Jeff Wolf. "Our line-up is now pretty well set and that has given us some real consistency from the middle on down. We're a team playing with some confidence now."
Germantown will play a non-conference twinbill down at UW-Whitewater on Saturday (St. Charles, Ill. at 11:15 a.m. and West Allis Hale later in the day).
It was led this night by junior ace Brian Keller, who won his second game in four days despite not having his best stuff.
He was helped out by the 14-hit attack, which included a seven-run second that erased a 2-0 deficit and put the Warhawks ahead for good at 7-2.
In the frame, the Warhawks had five hits, as Krivoshein knocked in the first two runs with a single, his second hit of the day.
"Coach gave me a lot of confidence when he put me at the top of the order," said Krivoshein. "I'm glad I'm making his decision look good."
Later in the inning, shortstop Brandon Seifert lashed a two-run double, while Blake Fleischman dropped in a flare single that plated another Warhawk and Matt Eggert pounded another two-run double.
Homestead helped out the Warhawks in the frame with a critical infield error and a couple of misplayed flyballs as Highlander starter and loser Colton Pollinger struggled to get out of the inning.
"We all know if we pick up the ball like we should that would not have been a seven-run inning," said Highlander coach Ernie Millard. "Tommorrow in practice, we're not going to even touch a bat, we're just going to work on defense and situational pitching."
After going up 8-2 on an RBI triple by Krivoshein in the third, the Warhawks helped the Highlanders back into the game with two errors in the fourth. Homestead closed the gap to 8-6 by scoring four times as Kevin Koch had a sac fly for a run and both Matt Schroeder and Max Beckers had RBI singles.
Keller, who had thrown a 79-pitch gem in beating Grafton, 3-1, earlier in the week, clearly was laboring at this point, but was able to gather his second wind later in the game.
Germantown got one of the runs back on catcher Danny Krause's RBI single in the fifth to make it 9-6
Keller stifled a second and third threat in the fifth with a critical strikeout to end the inning. He pitched a one-two-three sixth and after a leadoff single in the seventh, watched happily as Seifert started a precise 6-4-3 doubleplay to take the air out of the Highlander sails.
He got his seventh and final strikeout looking to end the game.
"Brian is a tough kid and a competitor," said Wolf.
"We were fortunate to get six runs off him," said Millard. "If we're getting six runs off of Keller we should be winning that game as good as he is."
"When they make a mistake we should be able to step on their neck and make them pay for it only they did that tonight and we didn't."
Krivoshein had three RBI on the night as he got help from Fleischman (three hits and two RBI) and Eggert (three hits). Homestead was led by Mitch Hauser and Schroeder (two hits apiece). Pollinger helped his own cause early with a solo home run to right-center.
Wolf is very happy with his team's play as it prepares for WIAA tournament action that will begin on July 19 with a regional game at Brookfield Central. Ironically enough, the Warhawks will host the Lancers in the regular season closer on July 15.
"Funny how that works out," Wolf said. "I guarantee you, the line-ups for both teams will be much different than they will be on Tuesday (the regional game)."
"We're a stealth team now," he added. "I knew that with a new coaching staff that there would be some bumps in the road early on, but the guys are in a totally different position right now. They're a completely different team playing with a lot of confidence."
"I'm really proud of them."
Krivoshein and his teammates are happy for that fact.
"We're definitely starting to sneak up on people right now. Just like last year," he said. "This is a great way to be closing out things."
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