It was one heck of a senior day for the Homestead baseball team on Saturday, July 12.
And of the nine seniors who got to start this day, it meant the most to Adam Stadler, who just got cleared to play that morning after being out more than a month with an injury.
He still could not throw, but he had two hits, scored two runs and knocked in a pair in the 10-0 victory over Waukesha South.
"Just a fantastic senior day," said Highlander coach Ernie Millard, whose team finished the regular at 22-7, including a 13-5 North Shore Conference record, good for a tie for second with Grafton. "I was very happy for all those kids."
The victory was the coda to a very interesting closing week to the regular season for Homestead, as the Highlanders both lost to a WIAA sectional top seed (Marquette, 12-2) and beat a sectional top seed (Greendale, 16-13) as they prepared for the state tourney series that started this week.
Homestead claimed the second seed in the WIAA Whitefish Bay sectional and earned a first-round bye. The Highlanders will then host the winner of seventh-seeded Cedarburg and 10th-seeded Germantown in a regional final on Friday, July 18, back at Rennicke at 5:30 p.m.
If the Highlanders win, they will take part in a 1:30 p.m. WIAA sectional semifinal at Bay's Cahill Park on Monday, July 21. The sectional final, with a berth in the July 25 state tournament at Kapco Park in Mequon on the line, will be at 4:30 p.m. that same day.
North Shore champ Whitefish Bay (25-5) is the top seed in a very deep sectional that features seven teams with 18 or more wins. Millard knows that his team has overachieved immensely this season and is not looking past anyone.
"There is no such thing as momentum in this sectional," he said. "We're super-excited about the second seed because it really helps our pitching staff. Whether it will be Germantown or Cedarburg, it will be a very tough game.
"I also understand with this team that we could either make a run all the way to the state title or be knocked out at any time in any round," he said. "Any of those seven teams could win it, but we have some momentum on our side and we could make a run."
Homestead has won five of its last six games and eight of its last 10.
Homestead 10, Waukesha South 0: The Highlanders had 10 hits in the game as, aside from Stadler, Ian Koch also had two hits and three RBIs and Chris Mueller cracked a two-run homer. Eric Skaar got the win in the six-inning game, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts and one walk in five innings of work.
Marquette 12, Homestead 2: The Highlanders ran into a brick wall against the Greater Metro Conference Tournament champion Hilltoppers on Friday, July 11, as they scored in each of the first five innings and notched 12 hits. Luke Neusen had two hits and knocked in both Homestead runs as Jared Stieve also had two hits. "They're good," said Millard. "Really good. They just handled us."
Homestead 16, Greendale 13: Ben Garstecki got Missouri recruit Zach Henderson to strikeout looking and then got the last batter to fly out to right to finally end a five-run Panther rally in the seventh at Rennicke on Wednesday, July 9. Neither side played or pitched exceptionally well in this reserve-filled contest, but Millard was happy as the Highlanders gave the Panthers (27-3) just their second loss of the season to that point.
"They started their number four pitcher and we didn't throw anyone in our top three," said Millard. "What you saw here were two teams that could hit and a team that can really hit (Greendale)."
Millard was exceptionally pleased with the relief effort of Garstecki, who give up an infield single and then an RBI groundout before getting the final two outs.
"I don't know if we get out of that inning if he (Garstecki) doesn't come in," said Millard. Trevor Cho had three hits and Mike Lamers and Bryce Juedes two apiece.
Homestead 20, West Bend East 3: In the completion of a suspended game on Tuesday, July 8, the Highlanders had 22 hits and scored eight times in both the second and seven innings. Cho (three RBIs), Koch (two RBIs) and Juedes (four RBIs) all had four hits apiece as Skaar threw five innings with five strikeouts for the win.
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