Brown Deer baseball
Grafton senior pitcher Dylan Mayer was not the same in his approach as his more highly touted teammate Conor Fisk, but he used a variety of off-speed pitches and locations to keep the hard-hitting Falcons off balance for most of the WIAA sectional semifinal game Friday in Cedarburg, finishing with just one strikeout and one walk in advancing Grafton to the sectional final by a 4-2 count.
He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced and his one strikeout was huge, as it started that run. The Falcons had forged ahead 2-1 in the third on RBI fielders' choices from Sean Andryauskas and Joey Mattefs but still had two runners on base when Mayer froze Falcons' team leader and, arguably, best hitter Danny Korpela on an inside corner, full-count fastball for the final out in the third.
Brown Deer would never advance a runner past first again.
"The kid kept us off balance and he got the ball over the plate," said Brown Deer coach Mike Donahue. "They took a gamble and won. I hope it pays off for them."
The Blackhawks took the lead back for good in the bottom of the third on four hits. The eventual game-winner came in on a sacrifice fly by Mayer himself.
Brown Deer turned in a stellar defensive play to prevent that inning from being even worse, as on Alex Nennig's RBI single, the Blackhawks tried to score another runner, but Korpela in center field relayed a strong throw to Mattefs at second. Mattefs then hit Brett Youngbeck at the plate with a perfect strike that easily beat the sliding runner for the final out of the frame.
Mattefs finished his career on a strong note, throwing three innings of shutout relief for starter Drew Worth.
"I thought we could get something done here," said Donahue. "It just didn't quite work out."
Grafton (21-9) saved the Milwaukee Brewers draft choice Fisk for top seeded Nicolet in Saturday's sectional final, and the back end of the gamble paid off there as well, as Fisk shutout the Knights, 1-0, to lead the Blackhawks to the state tournament.
For much of the season, it was a bad rollercoaster ride for the Highlanders, as they kept bouncing around with their inconsistency giving their coach Ernie Millard a chronic case of motion sickness.
But down the stretch, Homestead found a way, winning seven of their last eight regular season games before falling recently to area rival Whitefish Bay in a WIAA regional final.
"I was very pleased with our improvement down the stretch," said Millard. "We now know where we're going with our pitching next year. … We won three of our last four North Shore games against teams that we lost to the first time around and we got to .500 (16-16) which was just huge because for most of the season, that was just a pipe dream."
The Highlanders best overall players this year included senior utility man/pitcher Andrew Holtorf and sophomore first baseman Max Beckers (team high .458 batting average).
Seniors on the squad included Holtorf, Peter Fraaza, Kevin Gawronski, Jason Ottem and Coy Smith.
"Homestead baseball is in a happy place right now," said Millard. "We have a lot to look forward to."
North Shore girls soccer
Eight local players helped the FC Milwaukee Wisconsin Premier Soccer League team qualify for the Final Four showdown in Dallas, Texas, this weekend.
The WPSL is a 50-plus team national league with five conferences that started this year. It is the largest women's amateur soccer league in the world.
The local players involved include Lauren Acree of Whitefish Bay (Marquette University), Dana Larsen of Mequon (Baylor University), Ally Miller of Mequon (Marquette University). Laurie Nosbusch of Mequon (University of Wisconsin), Ashley Stemmeler of Thiensville (Marquette University), Stephanie Vasos of Whitefish Bay (Marquette University), Madeline Vicker of Whitefish Bay High School and Brittney Von Rueden of Mequon (University School).
The WPSL national semifinal will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at the University of Texas-Dallas, with the final set for the same site on Sunday at 1 p.m.
- Steven L. Tietz
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