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Homestead baseball team fighting for second WIAA seed

Highlanders tied for second in NSC

July 8, 2014

The Homestead baseball team did a good thing to help itself in the WIAA sectional seeding process when it upset North Shore Conference champion Whitefish Bay, 7-3, on Thursday, July 3.

The Highlanders needed to do that because the day before, they took a hit in that process, when Grafton rallied for four runs in the seventh to beat them 5-4. Homestead and Grafton are battling for the second seed in the WIAA Whitefish Bay sectional.

A suspended game for Homestead with West Bend East that was completed on Tuesday, July 8, loomed large heading into the seeding session which was slated for Wednesday, July 9.

"We need that one," said coach Ernie Millard before the East game was finished, "and I was really proud of the kids (for the Bay win), especially after the devastating loss (to Grafton). They really left it all out on the field."

Grafton and Homestead were tied for second (12-5) in the North Shore standings after July 7 events. The East game will be the league finale for the Highlanders, while the Black Hawks finished up against West Bend West on July 9. Heading into the July 8 games, Homestead is 20-6 overall after a 9-2 win over Nicolet on Monday, July 7, while Grafton is 17-5.

Homestead, which will play at Greater Metro Conference co-champ Marquette on Friday, July 11, at 5:30 p.m. will have its regular season closer at home at noon on Saturday, July 12, when it hosts Waukesha South in its senior day game.

The WIAA tourney begins on Tuesday, July 15, with regional semifinal contests.

"We're in pretty good shape," said Millard. "We're one of only three teams in the league that can say they've beaten everybody at least once (in the conference)."

Homestead 9, Nicolet 2: Against the last-place Knights, the Highlanders took care of business with a six-run fourth as three different pitchers, including Jared Stieve (four innings, five strikeouts and three walks), Ben Garstecki (two innings, two strikeouts) and Eric Wade combined to earn the victory.

Wade had two hits and Trevor Cho added one for Homestead.

Homestead 7, Bay 3: The Highlanders shocked the Blue Dukes with four runs in the second and three in the third. They were up 7-1 at that point and then coasted home from there. Mike Schulz had a two-run double in the second and a sacrifice fly in the third while Ian Koch had two hits and knocked in two runs and Luke Neusen also had two hits and an RBI.

Chris Mueller (three and a third innings, three strikeouts and two walks) and Stieve (three and two-thirds, two strikeouts and one walk) combined on the win.

Millard was impressed with the work the Highlander batters did against Bay's high-powered pitcher, Nick Lackney (eight strikeouts and three walks in five innings).

"I was super pleased, because we had some of our best approaches (at the plate) all season," said Millard, "and that's because we've seen some really good pitching this season. I was really glad we got our hits in early before Lackney established his slider. He gets really tough when he starts doing that."

Grafton 5, Homestead 4: The Highlanders had a 4-1 lead going into that bottom of the seventh before the Black Hawks rallied.

"They got a couple of bloops to fall in and that really got things going," said Millard.

Eric Skaar had started and pitched well for six-plus innings before being relieved by Mueller. Luke Lebesch had two RBIs for the Highlanders, who had taken the lead with a three-run second. Millard was pleased that the Highlanders were able to score four off Grafton ace Nate Lukas.

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