When a conference title is on the line, style points, lovely plays and awe-inspiring effort sometimes don't mean a darn thing.
Sometimes, as in the case with the Germantown baseball team and its quest for a second straight North Shore Conference crown and the the less than striking 6-5 victory it pulled out over visiting Whitefish Bay Tuesday night, ugly is good too.
Because in the fifth inning, the Warhawks did everything they could to throw away this game, but eventually they rallied to win, when Ben Eggert scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh.
"I have so much respect for Coach (Jay) Wojcinski (of Bay)" said Germantown coach Jeff Wolf. "You just hate to win that way, but given the circumstances, we'll certainly take it."
With the win, the Warhawks' magic number at clinching a share of its second straight NSC title drops to one. They are 12-3 in league play and are two games up in the loss column over Cedarburg (12-5) which broke a tie for second in the league when it pulled out a 7-6 victory over Homestead.
The Warhawks will play a twinbill on Wednesday, with a nonconference game against Waukesha West at 11:30 a.m. and then a home NSC contest with Grafton at 5:30 p.m.
They will close out the conference regular season with a pair of games against West Bend West. They will visit the Spartans on Friday at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and then host them at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
A win over Grafton on Wednesday clinches a tie for the crown. If that occurs, then a victory in either West contest will claim the league championship outright.
Warhawk ace Ryan Anderson, who survived a rocky start to earn the win over Bay on Tuesday, said this year's team has had to earn everything it's gotten this summer.
"People doubted us (because we lost so many people to graduation)," he said, "but we knew that if we played as a team that we had a good chance at repeating."
But no one said it would be easy. Germantown, which earned the top seed in the WIAA Cedarburg sectional and earned a first-round bye out of the Tuesday, July 9 regional semifinal games, fell behind to Bay in the second when the Blue Dukes' Kirby Annis singled home Grant Menard.
The Warhawks were able to tie the score in the third, when big first baseman Blake Fleischman hammered a two-out Joe Kaszubowski curveball high over the rightfield wall at the Dream Field.
Then the Warhawks gave Anderson the lead in the fifth when Randy Finger cracked another long-ball. Yhis time a two-run shot that just cleared the left-centerfield fence.
But before the Warhawks could get too happy, the little mental mistakes that have sometimes plagued this team, reached up and grabbed them in the Blue Duke sixth.
Bay's Cole Stasiak beat out an infield single to start things and then Johnny Markwiese reached on an infield bobble.
Nick Lackney then looked to lay down a bunt. He hit it too hard right back to Anderson and the senior pitcher looked to make a play on the lead runner coming to third, but the throw got away from him, allowing Stasiak to score and putting runners on second and third with none out.
"All I was thinking was 'third, third, third,'" said Anderson. "I should have slowed down."
Then Blue Duke freshman Andrew James, with big brother, current Bay assistant coach and former NOW Newspapers Player of the Year Kevin looking on, made Germantown pay for those miscues by ripping a two-run single through the box to give Bay a 4-3 advantage.
Two batters later, Andy Conway beat out another infield single to bring in another run and make it 5-3 Bay.
'We battled and took advantage of those mistakes," said Wojcinski. "We just needed to see if we could hang on."
Bay was working on its third pitcher at that point, and couldn't maintain the advantage, as Germantown took advantage of two walks to tie the game in the sixth as both Joey Szopinski's sacrifice fly and Flesichman's single brought home runs.
The Blue Dukes got a runner to third with two out in the top of the seventh but Anderson got a ground-out to end the inning. He finished with four strikeouts and one walk.
That set the stage for the drama in the bottom of the seventh. Both Eggert and Joey Sykora opened the inning with singles. Two outs later, they were on third and second, respectively, when Markwiese uncorked a pitch that went to the backstop and Eggert scored easily with the winning run.
"Unfortunately, that's been the story of our season," said Wojcinski, whose team fell to 15-13 on the season. "We let little things happen and they wind up costing us games. I think that's something like our ninth or 10th loss of the season by two runs or less."
Wolf knows how lucky his team was.
"We were very fortunate," he said. "We made mistakes against Bay, and we've lost some games like that this season. But I like how we responded (when Bay went ahead). No one panicked and we kept our composure."
"It was not a great day, but we got a big run when we needed it."
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