A season that marked a major turnaround for the Wauwatosa West baseball team came to an abrupt end Tuesday night at Breitlow Field.
The Trojans fell to Marquette, 6-3, in the opening round of the WIAA summer baseball regionals. The loss was especially tough for the upstart Trojans, given the fact that they held a 3-1 lead heading into the sixth inning.
Tosa West junior Austin Jones led the Trojans’ fast start, pitching four scoreless innings before being tagged for one run in the fifth inning. In the sixth, costly errors on a missed tag at first and a dropped foul ball gave the Hilltoppers a chance to strike.
With two runners on, Marquette’s Joe Bartoletti drilled a double into left-center, tying the game at 3-3. Alex Herman followed with another double to bring Bartoletti home, giving Marquette a one-run lead that it would never relinquish.
A passed ball and an RBI-single from Parker Sniatynski capped a five-run sixth inning that gave Marquette the decisive 6-3 edge.
“We gave up the big inning,” Tosa West head coach Chad Mateske said. “We talked about this last week. We started with two errors. We should have had two outs and nobody on base. Things like that completely change the complexion of the game.”
For Tosa West, sophomore Nick Orlowski provided the early offense, connecting in the bottom of the second inning for an RBI-double that scored Jacob Boudreaux. Orlowski also drew a bases-loaded walk in the third inning to give the Trojans a 3-0 lead.
Despite a patient approach at the plate all night, the Trojans struggled to make contact off Marquette’s Matt Goetz, who relieved starter Alex Kerschner in the fourth inning and pitched scoreless baseball through the sixth to pick up the win. In the fourth and fifth innings, Goetz tallied six strikeouts, striking out the side in the fifth.
“We couldn’t really get any contact off of their second pitcher at all,” Mateske said. “The momentum started to change when they got that first run and made it 3-1. After that, we got quiet. Then, Goetz gets six straight outs by strikeouts. It took the momentum from us, and we just didn’t rebound.”
The Trojans didn’t go quietly, however. A single, a walk and an error loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but with Trojans senior Kyle Heideman at the plate, Goetz got the groundout he needed to get out of trouble.
“We had the bases loaded in the sixth; we had the tying run at first with two outs, but we just couldn’t get it done,” Mateske said.
Still, for a program that won a total of seven games from 2008-2010, the season was an overwhelming success for the Trojans, who finished 16-13 overall and second in the Woodland Conference at 12-5. The Hilltoppers advance to face top-seeded Kettle Moraine in Whitewater on Friday.
“It goes past this game, it’s disappointing that we held a lead going into the sixth inning and let it slip away,” Mateske said, “but we did talk about some of the seniors. And we have a big junior class. The seniors were there when we won one conference game three years ago, to being one game out of a division championship this year. We did talk about the positives of the season and how we can build off it, but you can’t just show up next year and expect it to happen again. We have to work hard and we’ve got to be hungry.”
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