Tyler Kozlowski never let Wauwatosa East get in the game -- or even out of the infield.
The Sussex Hamilton senior pitcher allowed two infield singles and one unearned run over seven superb innings, and Sussex Hamilton handled Wauwatosa East in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs at Hamilton on Tuesday, 7-1.
Kozlowski finished with eight strikeouts -- at least one in every inning -- and retired the final seven batters he faced.
"Tyler's been our No. 1 all year," said Hamilton coach Mike Schramek, whose team will now battle host Brookfield East (15-14) in Friday's regional final. "He obviously keeps us competitive and he really knows how to command his pitches, when to throw what pitches, where to throw location-wise. It's a luxury to have someone that legitimately has three pitches they can throw, which keeps the opposing team off balance."
Hamilton (16-13) did commit four errors, including one that allowed Tosa East's lone run to come around in the fourth. But by then, the Chargers had a 5-0 lead, starting with three runs in the opening frame, then sent eight batters to the plate in the fourth and claimed two more tallies. Mark Lunowa went 3 for 4 for the Chargers with two runs scored and two RBIs.
"Today was one of the better days," Lunowa said. "I'm not sure what it was, but I had a good batting practice pregame and saw the ball pretty well today, never got too far behind in the count and squared it up."
Kozlowski, whose arsenal includes a splitter, changeup and cut fastball, allowed a two-out single in the first on Ben Carpenter's slow roller to third but got out of the inning when cleanup batter Riley Poe was ruled out for batter's interference on a steal attempt. Hamilton then scored on Tim Biron's single and plated two unearned runs when Tosa East committed consecutive infield errors with two outs, leading to the 3-0 edge.
"That was big," Kozlowski said. "If it's a close game, you might start tensing up a little bit, but everyone played great after that. I thought my changeup worked really good (tonight). I got a couple swings and misses toward the end."
Bobby Russ had the lone additional hit for the Red Raiders, who did not commit another error.
"I think we might have come in a little up tight with regionals and all that," Tosa East coach Brian Karas said. "The middle-end of the game, we started to ease up and made plays."
Lunowa drove in a fourth run in the second, and Kyle Schiedemeyer plated another in the third with an RBI single. Run-scoring hits from Lunowa and Biron in the fourth capped the scoring.
"As long as we're not giving teams outs and playing the way we can, I have no doubt we can go as far as we want to," said Lunowa, who will take the ball to the hill against Brookfield East and look for his second victory of the year against the Spartans on Friday.
The Chargers had split two battles with Wauwatosa East (9-20) this season.
"Last time we played them when we lost, we had 17 popups in that game," Schramek said. "We wanted to make sure we were putting the ball on the ground and not making it so easy on the defense."
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