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Players respond to coach's request with some 'swag'

West wins four of last five games through Tuesday

June 19, 2012

After playing well, but losing a 2-0 decision to New Berlin Eisenhower on June 11, Wauwatosa West coach Chad Mateske had a talk with his team before playing the Lions the next day.

"I told the kids early in the week, 'Your generation talks about 'swag.' We haven't seen 'swag' on our team yet this year," Mateske said. "That was coming into Tuesday's game. I said 'start playing with some swag. That's your term, let's see it know.' They've responded very well so far."

Yes, they have, as West won three of its next four games last week and started this week by winning at South Milwaukee, 6-5, on Monday.

"We lost a lot of close games (early in the year)," Mateske said. "I think we were just content to be in games. Not knowing (how to win) from our previous years of experience. Finally, it got to a point in these last three games where we decided to start playing with a chip on our shoulder.

"That's our motto before the game. I've said it in every pregame speech. 'Let's play with a chip on our shoulder.' We have something to prove to ourselves, to our team, to our fans and to the rest of teams in the Milwaukee area. So we played with a chip on our shoulder."

Whether it's swag or the chip, the Trojans have improved to 4-3, good enough for third place in the Woodland Conference Black Division behind Greendale (6-1) and Whitnall (6-2). Tosa West was 7-8 overall before Tuesday night's game against South Milwaukee.

One of the Trojans best games of the week came on Saturday morning at the Wood Bat Tournament at Frame Park, when they clobbered Waukesha North, 17-1, behind the three-hit pitching performance of JJ Belknapp, who struck out three and walked only one. He also had a double, triple and reached first on an error.

"I felt good. I pitched one inning on Thursday against Pewaukee, so other than that, my arm was fresh," he said. "I'm just getting ahead in counts, throwing strikes to these guys; with the wood bats, busting them inside, (I) broke a lot of bats today."

Mateske was also pleased with what he saw from the lanky junior.

"JJ has been in a lot of pressure situations this year, especially as a relief pitcher," he said, "so we knew he would be all right with the pace of the game. He kept the ball down. The umpire was calling the low strike zone. That just played right into his hand. He knew where to put the ball."

While Belknapp coasted on the mound, he had plenty of support from his teammates, who had four runs through two innings, before exploding for 13 runs in the fourth inning to close the game out after retiring the Northstars (3-12) in the top of the fifth.

Leading 4-1, the Trojans sent 17 hitters to the plate in the fourth inning to blow away the Northstars, who committed six errors in the inning.

West banged out six hits in the inning, as Ben Zachman had a two-run double, Willie Belknapp had an RBI single, Austin Jones a two-run double and Mickey Morgan an RBI double to highlight the inning.

"We hit the ball really well," Mateske said. "That's been one of our Achilles (heel) this year. Sometimes we don't drive the ball when there are runners in scoring position. But (Saturday) we did. We practiced with the wood bats all week and it seemed to pay off. We also made routine defensive plays and we made spectacular defensive plays."

Both Belknapp and Zachman made two outstanding plays to keep the Northstars off the bases.

Trojans fall in title game

The Warhawks (8-5) beat the Trojans in the Wood Bat Championship game, 9-5, in extra innings, as Germantown rallied from a 5-0 deficit. The Trojans scored four runs in the first inning and added a run in the third, but the Warhawks scored five in the fifth to tie the game. The game went into extra innings and the Warhawks scored four in the eighth to win.

Jones (five innings pitched, three walks, four strikeouts), Matt Gillis (two IP, three BB), Nick Orlowski (0.1 IP, two BB) and Wille Belknapp (0.2, BB) pitched and Jones went 3-for-3 as West outhit Germantown, 10-5.

West holds off Rockets

Tyler Gross pitched a complete game, but had to battle all seven innings to hold off a Rocket comeback in a 6-5 win at South Milwaukee (2-6) on Monday to begin this week.

West scored twice in the first, saw the Rockets tie it up in the bottom of the inning, then scored single runs in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings to take a 6-2 lead. South Milwaukee rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Gross shut down the Rockets when he needed to. He allowed seven hits, walked two and fanned four.

Morgan singled and tripled and drove in three runs, Jones went 3-for-3 and Willie Belknapp went 2-for-4, getting seven of the Trojans' 12 hits.

Duo quiets Pirates

Gross and JJ Belknapp combined on a two-hit, 4-3 win over Pewaukee (6-3) on June 13, as the Trojans had a chance to show their comeback skills after trailing 2-0 in the first inning.

They scored once in the second inning and twice in the third to take a 3-2 lead. They then added a run in the fourth and the Pirates countered with one in the seventh.

Gross made the game interesting with six walks, but he fanned six while going 2-for-3 at the plate. Jones led the 10-hit attack with a 2-for-4 performance and an RBI.

A nice bounce back

The Trojans split two games with the Lions (4-3) to open last week. They dropped a 2-0 decision at Ike on June 11, as West's Gross deserved a better fate. He tossed a six-hitter, walked four and fanned four, while JJ Belknapp had a single and a double as West managed only six hits off Ike's Mitch Arman.

After Mateske's pregame speech the next day, the Trojans rolled to a 10-0 win over Eisenhower at Breitlow Field. Jones was the Trojans' player of the game, as he tossed a two-hitter, walked three and struck out 10 and went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Willie Belknapp chipped in with two hits and two RBIs as the Trojans banged out a dozen hits off two Lions hurlers.

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