Germantown baseball coach Jeff Wolf called his kids "even better people than they are baseball players" after the Warhawks tagged Whitefish Bay, 8-0, Tuesday night to clinch their first North Shore Conference title in 22 years.
But no one would have begrudged him if he had changed his mind a few moments later after seniors Danny Krause and Louis Tuszynski hit him with a celebratory sneak attack of a water cooler bath.
"Woah, that actually feels good," laughed Wolf after the game that was conducted in 95-plus degree heat at Ritzenthaler Dream Field.
And everyone was indeed feeling good about the first outright league baseball title since 1990. With the win, Germantown is 15-2 in North Shore play and 18-9 overall with only one more league game (at home Thursday against West Bend West) left to play.
Second play West is 12-5 (17-9 overall) after losing to Slinger Tuesday night.
This title was hoped for and expected this season, and the second-year coach Wolf, who shared in several championships as an assistant for the powerful Nicolet program for several years, laid the groundwork early.
"Back before the season began, I took them for a look-see of the conference championship banner in the gym," he said. "I told them to look at it closely and then I said 'That's our goal' This is a good championship, because I think the conference is as deep as its been in awhile. For us to go 15-2 in it is impressive."
"It tells me that we showed up everyday and that we played in a very consistent manner. I'm very proud of the guys."
And that's when he made that remark about them being good people, only to get doused with the cooler moments later.
But the emboldened seniors were reflective and quiet when asked what this title means to them, to be part of this particular piece of history.
"We always knew that we had the talent," said pitcher and designated hitter Brian Keller, whose 9-0 shutout of West Bend East the night before clinched a share of the league crown. "We just had to play as a team and take it all by ourselves."
"We always believed in ourselves, we always knew that we could do it," said outfielder Jimmy Doedens, who had several key hits in the Warhawks 2010 state tournament run. "We just had to go out and prove it."
And the Warhawks did that Tuesday night, as they seized control of this pivotal game with a four-run first against Blue Duke starter Justin Alt.
Senior catcher Danny Krause started things with a single and then a stolen base. After Doedens singled, Keller hit into a fielder's choice which brought in Krause with all the offense starting and winning pitcher Ryan Anderson would need.
But the Warhawks tacked on further runs in the frame on a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by another senior Jordan Kuczynski and an RBI single by senior Tom Andrus.
Insurance runs were tacked on in the third, fourth and sixth, but Anderson wouldn't really need them, as the senior turned in arguably his most impressive effort of the season, with a complete game three-hitter that included only one walk and three strikeouts.
He even helped himself out in the fifth, by getting out of a first and second, one-out situation by initiating a 1-6-3 inning-ending doubleplay.
"I really would like to compliment Ryan," said Wolf. "He sort of gets lost in the Brian Keller (UW-Milwaukee recruit) spotlight, but we wouldn't be here without him."
Keller himself was impressed.
"He was just out there doing what he does best, doing what he loves," he noted of Anderson's effort.
Krause, the team's catcher, leadoff hitter and sparkplug, was among the most pleased about this turn of events.
"This feels good," he said. "We had a little bit of a rocky beginning, but we kept moving forward. ...Now that we have this out of the way, we can start tending to other things, like maybe getting to state and winning a state championship."
WIAA tournament play begins June 10.
And speaking of the lofty aspirations that Krause alluded to, Wolf could only laugh as he carried his soaked self back towards the dugout, because he knew that his wife Corey Wolf could offer some expertise in that regard.
She is the same Corey Wolf who recently retired as Nicolet girls basketball coach after leading the Knights to the 2011 WIAA state championship.
"I think I'll talk to my wife about how we go about winning a state title," Wolf chuckled.
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