Given the circumstances, this situation just calls for a folk ballad to be written with a brisk, tense melody carrying along lyrics of ever-increasing drama.
Call it "The Ballad of Colten and Trevor."
Because for the second week in a row on Monday, Homestead senior ace Colten Poellinger wrote a beautiful air with an endless number of shutout innings only to have his counterpart on the opposing team do the same keeping Poellinger and his teammates humming a sad, sad song.
But in both instances, sophomore shortstop Trevor Cho was there to save the day and give the lyrics a happy ending.
He singled home the winning run in the bottom of the eighth on June 17 in a 1-0 win over Slinger and on Monday, he banged a rocket-shot of a two-run homer over Rennicke Field's short-porch in right to lift the Highlanders to a 2-0 victory over Whitefish Bay.
"Trevor hasn't asked me for anything yet, but I'm sure he will," chuckled Poellinger Tuesday morning. "I owe him big-time."
Bay coach Jay Wojcinski, whose own ace, sophomore Nick Lackney, completely handcuffed the Highlanders himself for six innings, could only shake his head at the result.
"It's like I told the kids afterwards, sometimes you just get beat and all you can do is tip your cap," Wojcinski said. "Our guy did great and they had only two hits, too, but unfortunately one of their's went over the fence."
"Both pitchers were unbelievable tonight," Highlanders coach Ernie Millard said. "...I joked with Nick (Lackney) after the game 'Now you're all going to do us a favor and graduate two years early, right?' Sometimes he's had trouble with his control, but tonight was as good as I've seen him."
With the win, the Highlanders (9-4 in North Shore play and 14-5 overall) clung tight to league leader Germantown (9-2) while Bay fell to 7-5 and 13-7, respectively. The Highlanders helped themselves by downing Germantown, 10-7 on June 20 (see MequonNOW.com for details).
Homestead still has a chance at the league title, but needs aid from some other teams. They have NSC games scheduled with Port Washington (Tuesday) and at home against West Bend West on Thursday. Poellinger, who is now 6-0 on the season and who has a streak of 34 straight scoreless innings, will next pitch at Grafton on Monday.
Poellinger said he gets psyched throwing in games like the last two Monday nights.
"Those are the fun games," he said. "You just try and keep your team in the game and keep everyone entertained, too. Nick (Lackney) was amazing. He really had us fooled tonight. We couldn't get anything going against him at all."
And if not for a rugged first inning against the Highlanders, where he struck out the side, but also issued two walks, Lackney might have been out there in the seventh inning.
"But his (pitch) count was getting up there," Wojcinski said. "He threw about 29 or 30 pitches in that first inning. Maybe if he doesn't have an inning like that we send him out there (in the seventh) but there was no sense in doing that. It wasn't the seventh game of the World Series."
Instead, reliever Johnny Markwiese went out and did the best he could. Homestead, which also managed only two hits on the night, saw pinch-hitter Austin Ralph walk to start the inning. He was then sacrificed to second by Alex Fish.
Cho then came up and hit a one-out full-count pitch over the rightfield fence for the game-winner.
"We knew it was gone the second he hit it," Poellinger said. "We all started running out of the dugout."
"It's a short porch, yes," Millard said, "but he hit it really hard."
"What could you do," Wojcinski said. "With a full count, he (Markwiese) had to throw a strike and to the kid's credit, he hit it."
Both pitchers finished with nine strikeouts and four walks. The walks were more than what Poellinger has thrown all season combined.
"Colten didn't have his greatest control tonight, but even in a situation like this, he was still plenty good," said Millard, who noted that his ace gave up only two hits on the night. "Bay was by far the better team tonight in terms of getting the bat on the ball and we're not the greatest team in the world in terms of hitting, but with Colten, we've discovered all we have to do is score one."
As Poellinger knows, collaboration works well in both songwriting and baseball.
"Sometimes you just have to rely on your defense to do the job behind you and that's what happened tonight," Poellinger said.
Wojcinski, whose team, by quirk of scheduling, has seen all of the North Shore's top pitchers this season, said Poellinger is by far the best he's seen.
"He's not overpowering like Kevin (James, Bay's own 2009 NOW Player of the Year) or (Brian) Keller (Germantown's 2012 state player of the year) who could rear back and throw it by you when they wanted to," Wojcinski said, "but he's very sneaky and keeps you off-balance. He mixes in the slider and the change-up and he just changes speeds so well."
Poellinger is not going to get caught up in all the accolades. He knows he wouldn't be anywhere without the aid of his teammates, especially Cho.
"This win was big, it keeps us in the race, gives us a chance (at the conference title)," he said. "We just have to keep winning and hope we get a little help."
So they can sing another happy song.
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