Veteran Homestead baseball coach Ernie Millard is not going to read too much into his team's less-than-artful 10-7 win over North Shore Conference leader Germantown Thursday night other than to say:
"It gives us a sliver of hope."
With the victory, the Highlanders improved to 8-4 in league play (13-5 overall0 while Germantown maintained its lead at 8-2 (9-5 overall).
"But seriously, this is a huge win for us,'" said Millard. "Both teams were sloppy and loose on defense, but it does give us the slightest sliver of hope."
Warhawk coach Jeff Wolf couldn't explain his team's flat effort on defense which resulted in a season-high eight errors.
"That's the most disappointing thing about this," he said. "We just had a lack of focus and effort on defense. ...You make errors, but to have seven or eight, there's just no excuse for that."
"...It was very out of character for us."
And it started right away, as the visiting Highlanders scored four runs in the top of the first with the help of four hits and two Germantown errors. Alex Fish had an RBI double, while Thomas Fazio brought in another with a sacrifice fly and starting and winning pitcher Jake Erfourth jacked a solo home run.
A wild pitch from Germantown starter and loser Sam Midlikowski brought in yet another score.
"You could tell it was going to be one of those nights right away," said Wolf.
Germantown tried to make a game of it in its half of the first as first baseman Blake Fleischman cracked a two-run double and then later scored on on Randy Finger's RBI single.
Homestead pushed another run across in the second without benefit of a hit off Germantown reliever Danny Knutson. Two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch helped bring in the run.
Then the Highlanders broke the game open in the third scoring four times with the aid of five hits and two more Germantown miscues. Trevor Cho had a run-scoring double and Fazio brought in another score with a single. On Fazio's single, a Warhawk overthrow brought home a second run.
The 9-3 advantage would essentially be all that Erfourth would need. He settled down after the first and allowed only one more run over his final four innings of work.
He walked the first two batters in the sixth and both of them eventually came around to score as Germantown plated three runs in the inning off the reliever Fish to make it 10-7. Joey Szopinski had a two-run double to highlight the rally.
But though two Germantown runners would reach in the seventh, a flyout to Homestead centerfielder Colten Poellinger, who made a great running catch in the fifth, closed out the game in a Highlander win.
Poellinger, who had four hits in the game and who is also the Highlanders' best pitcher, was pleased with the win.
"It was nice to come back here and get a split on the season with these guys," he said. "I spent a lot of time practicing my hitting this winter and I'm glad to see it's paying off."
Erfourth finished with two walks and no strikeouts. Homestead had 10 hits on the evening.
"I know we weren't seeing Ryan (Anderson, the Warhawks' returning All-Suburban pitcher) or Blake (Fleischman)," said Millard, "but we still hit the ball pretty hard. It was a little disheartening to come out of the first with only a 4-3 lead but the kids came back."
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