Mequon - The Arrowhead and Homestead baseball teams both entered Friday with 21-9 records. Both donned red uniforms and on this day, both teams elected to start left-handed pitchers. They were mirror images of each other, and the final score reflected it.
Warhawks' senior pitcher Jarek Petras won the battle of southpaws with Homestead junior Colton Poellinger in a WIAA regional final at Arrowhead, lifting the Warhawks into Monday's sectional with a 1-0 victory.
The similarities between the two teams didn't fade once the game began. Petras walked one batter, junior first baseman Austin Ralph, in the top of the sixth inning. Poellinger walked Arrowhead junior second baseman Mitch Dubnicka in the same stanza. Petras struck out five Highlanders, one shy of Poellinger's total. Both teams committed one error in the second inning.
"It was a very, very good high school baseball game between two very good teams today, for sure," Homestead veteran head coach Ernie Millard said. "I tip my hat to their pitcher. He threw a fantastic game and changed speeds really well."
In the bottom of the second inning with one out, Arrowhead senior leftfielder Eric Cottrell doubled to right-center field. He stole third base and ended up scoring on an error with Homestead's infield playing in on a ball off the bat of Warhawks' senior first baseman Sam Calmes.
Cottrell finished as the lone Warhawks player with two hits.
Getting out of a late jam
Homestead had runners on second and third in the top of the seventh inning with one out, but Petras got Homestead junior Mike Bradford to pop out to Dubnicka, and junior centerfielder Thomas Fazio to ground out to Warhawks' junior third baseman Kyle Eskoff.
Arguably the defensive play of the day occurred to open the top of the seventh with a fantastic catch by Arrowhead senior right fielder Jordan White, robbing Homestead junior designated hitter Max Heinrich of a hit.
"That was a huge catch in the seventh, getting that leadoff guy," Arrowhead coach Vince Mancuso said. "If that drops in, it's a whole different game and we're probably headed to extra innings."
Cottrell went 2 for 3 for the Warhawks. Fazio went 2 for 4 for the Highlanders.
"This is playoff baseball. Both pitchers threw very well," Mancuso said. "We lived to fight another day."
The Warhawks reached the sectional at Cedarburg for the first time in three years after back-to-back opening round losses following a state title run in 2009. Arrowhead was slated to meet top seed Menomonee Falls, with a battle against either Germantown or the host school awaiting in the sectional final later Monday.
The state tournament at Kapco Park in Mequon takes place Friday.
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