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Pitching-heavy, senior-dominated Homestead baseball team looks for big things this summer

June 11, 2013

Homestead baseball coach Ernie Millard has seen a lot of good groups over his many years of work with the Highlanders.

But he really is encouraged this spring by this pitching-heavy, senior dominated team that is off to a 9-3 start overall, as of Tuesday. The Highlanders were 21-10 last season with a 9-9 mark in the North Shore.

"We have nine seniors, our pitching is really good, our defense is really good, but our hitting is picking up where it left a year ago (not very good)," Millard said. "It's just a bit inconsistent right now. We're struggling to score."

Millard, however, said he feels it can be corrected in time behind his powerful pitching staff, which is led by four, multi-year letterwinning seniors. They include Colten Poellinger, Jake Erfourth, Austin Ralph and Alex Fish.

Position players right now include senior catcher Ben Binversie, a first base by committee that includes Ralph, Erfourth and junior Eric Wade; senior Mike Bradford at second base, newcomer junior Trevor Cho at shortstop, and sophomore Mitch Sutton at third.

In the outfield will be senior Thomas Fazio in left, the trio of Poellinger and juniors Chris Mueller and junior Bryce Juedes in center and senior Max Heinrich.

"We're pretty confident in ourselves," Millard said. "We're not the best team (in terms of overall talent), but we're one of the deepest I've ever had in terms of cogs that I can move around. The key will be trying to find playing time for everyone.

"We're trying to find a way to produce a scary team."

The Highlanders rallied for a 2-1 win over rival Nicolet last Friday, as the Knight's ace Hunter Crass had Homestead down in the seventh inning, but eventually tired. Crass was pulled with the bases loaded and his replacement hit a batter and walked a man in to win the game for Homestead.

Millard said Ralph pitched "an unbelievable game" in earning the win.

On Monday, Poellinger was equally as dominant, pitching a three-hit shutout of West Bend West in a 3-0 victory. He had eight strikeouts against just one walk. Fazio led the offense with two hits, including a double and two RBI.

Millard said he will "mess with the line-up a little to see if we can get a breakthrough (offensively)."

The Highlanders host Grafton at 5:30 p.m. Friday and then host Arrowhead in a non-conference tilt at noon Saturday. Defending North Shore Conference champion Germantown entered the week in the league lead (5-0).

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