Just when it looked like the Wauwatosa East baseball team started to put things together, the Red Raiders fell into a slump once again.
But then senior Bryce Kratzer stepped up Tuesday afternoon and tossed a three-hitter against Muskego, handing the Warriors (9-9, 14-9) a 4-1 defeat.
The Red Raiders are now 6-13 in the Greater Metro Conference through Tuesday and 7-15 overall. They beat West Allis Central, 6-4, and Sussex Hamilton, 5-1, in two well-played games sandwiched around a 12-0 loss to powerful Oak Creek (13-3, 16-4).
Then on Saturday they dropped a 5-2 non-conference decision to SWCHA and followed that with conference losses to Brookfield Central on Monday before Kratzer stepped up against Muskego at Breitlow Field on Tuesday.
The Red Raiders scored two runs in the third inning and two runs in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead before the Warriors scratched out a run in the sixth.
The Red Raiders did everything right, getting eight hits and making only one error in the field.
Steffen Uhrich singled twice and scored twice and Ben Joyce went 2-for-3 getting half of the team's hits in the victory.
Kratzer, certainly the ace of the Tosa East staff, was also brilliant in the 5-1 win Friday over a good Sussex Hamilton (12-9, 10-7) team on Friday. The tall right-hander tossed a four-hitter, walked only two and struck out seven, giving the offense a chance to win the game.
The offense mainly consisted of senior Riley Poe, who had three of the Red Raiders' six hits, and three RBIs. Poe had two singles and a triple and combined with Kratzer for one of Tosa East's biggest wins of the season.
After the Chargers scored a run in the first, Kratzer blanked them the rest of the way. Tosa East scored all its runs in the fifth inning.
The Red Raiders used a three-run third inning to hand West Allis Central a 6-4 defeat June 19 at Tex Belich Field and snapped a five-game losing streak.
East scored a run in the first, but the Bulldogs tied it up, then East had a three-run third and the Bulldogs added one to cut the lead to 4-2. But the Red Raiders scored a run in the fifth and seventh innings for a 6-2 lead and then held off Central, which scored twice in the ninth but fell short.
East outhit the Bulldogs, 7-6, as Ben Carpenter led the way with two triples and two RBIs. Poe added a double and three RBIs and Steffen Uhrich singled twice and scored two runs.
Colin Trautschold pitched six innings, walked three and fanned six and Poe finished up, finally striking out the side after a two-run seventh.
"We had made better adjustments at the plate," first-year Tosa East coach Brian Karas said. "We're hitting the ball considerably better than we have. Our pitchers are still working their butts off and we're starting to make plays in the field. We are starting to come around at the right time, I think."
Close, but no cigar
But then on Saturday, the Red Raiders lost, 5-2, to SWCHA at Breitlow Field.
The Saints (14-10) jumped out to a 4-0 lead through four innings off sophomore Ben Plaisted, scoring twice in the first, once in the second and fourth innings.
The Red Raiders broke through with two runs in the fourth to halve the lead, as Poe singled to center and Jonah Meidl singled to right putting runners on first and third.
With Ben Joyce batting, Poe took off for home on the pitch and Joyce ripped a double to center scoring both runners.
As Poe came to the bench and was being congratulated by his teammates, he asked if someone was trying to get him killed.
When I commented to Karas afterward I thought Poe saw his life pass before him when he saw Joyce swing instead of bunt, Karas responded, "So did he. It was just a missed sign."
The Red Raiders had runners at second in the fifth and sixth innings with only one out but couldn't get them in, while the Saints added the final run in the sixth.
Plaisted pitched five-plus innings and Karas praised the slim sophomore.
"Ben has made some big strides over this year," Karas said. "He started out really nervous, I'm sure, unsure of himself. He's got to be more consistent down in the pitching zone, but he's definitely turning it around from Day 1."
The Red Raiders then dropped a winnable game to Brookfield Central (5-11, 7-14) on Monday at McCoy Field, losing 9-6.
Tosa East had a 3-0 lead in the first on an error and a two-run single by Joyce, but the Lancers got two runs back in the bottom of the inning off Trautschold. The Red Raiders scored an unearned run on a walk, sacrifice and an error in the second inning for a 4-2 lead.
Central then scored three runs with an infield hit, a walk and an RBI single by Charlie O'Dwyer, but the last two scored on a crucial error by the shortstop. Central added two runs in the fourth and fifth to put the game away.
Poe had a sacrifice fly to score Bobby Russ in the sixth and Kratzer scored on a single by Jacob Martin in the seventh.
Tosa East got robbed of what could have been a huge hit as Central's Peter Schuelke raced back into deep right field and reached up and snagged Trautschold's line drive on the run.
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