Catcher Max Poeske has been at his job for four years for the Menomonee Falls baseball team and he's known as one of the finest all-around backstops in the area, as well as being a four-sport star, a WIAA Scholar/Athlete and a nice guy.
But perfect he's not and he will be the first to admit that. His throw to try and pick off Germantown pitcher Brandon Seifert at first base in the bottom of the sixth inning of the game between the Indians and the Warhawks sailed up the line and allowed Seifert to make it all the way to third. Two batters later, Germantown's Jimmy Doedens hit a sacrifice fly to tie the score at 8-8.
So Poeske was anxious to make amends, and he got a chance in the top of the seventh, when the Indians took advantage of a hit batsman and a throwing error on an attempted force play to put runners on first and third. After a stolen base and an intentional walk, Poeske then lifted a deep fly ball to center, allowing A.D. Gonzales to score the lead run.
And then Gonzales made Poeske's redemption complete, when he put down the Warhawks one-two-three in the bottom of the seventh for the save. Two impressive strikeouts helped seal a 9-8 Falls win over its border rivals.
"It just got away from me, I was thinking about it too much," said Poeske in a mildly disgusted tone of his throw, "but my teammates did a great job of bailing me out. Getting on base and giving me a chance to make up for my mistake."
And it allowed the Indians (19-8 overall) to get a little revenge on Germantown (9-9), which had beaten Falls last season in an extra inning game at Trenary. It also gave Falls a leg up in any WIAA sectional seeding situation that will come up later this summer.
Indian coach Pat Hansen knew that Poeske would come through if given the opportunity.
"He's far too mature to let something like that bother him," Hansen said of the throw. The win also allowed Falls to bounce back from a disappointing 4-3 loss to Greater Metro Conference leader Muskego the previous night, greatly dimming the Indians league title hopes.
One fan noted that that particular bus ride home was "Very quiet.""
"We needed the rebound," Poeske said, "and it's always good to beat these guys (the Warhawks)."
Even Germantown coach Parrish Wagner took some solace out of the loss, as the Warhawks had fought all the way back from a 7-0 deficit to force that sixth-inning tie with the visiting Indians.
"We had the chance to battle back and we did," said Wagner. "I was encouraged. This was one of the first times that we really came back on a team this year. We took advantage of a few of their mistakes and really showed a spark."
It didn't look like that would happen early on. Adam Rubatt hit a sacrifice fly to score lead-off hitter Ryan Romens in the first to give Falls an early lead.
Then in the second, the Indians exploded for six runs on five hits with the help of a hit batsman, a walk and an error. Carter Ypma had a two-run single, while Andy Von Bank, Rubatt and winning pitcher Joe Sanicola also had run-scoring hits.
But Falls freshman pitcher Brett Krause, after a one-two-three first inning, struggled in the second and the Warhawks got back into the contest with a six-run effort of their own. After four runs had been plated, Tyler Thicke greeted the reliever Sanicola with a flare to center that scored two runs and made the score 7-6.
Tony Farrand, Jacob Baker, and Doedens also had RBI singles in the frame for Germantown.
But after those outbursts, both Seifert (one strikeout and one walk but four hit batters) and Sanicola settled down.
Cole Myhra hit an RBI single in the fourth to score Poeske to make it 8-6 Falls and in the bottom of that frame, Germantown got the run back as Mike Fischer got on by an error and eventually scored on Jordan Infield's sacrifice fly.
However, that would be all the offense in the game until the Warhawks scratched out the tieing run courtesy of Poeske's error.
Sanicola got the win, throwing four-and-a-third innings with one strikeout, two walks and one hit batsman.
Hansen was happy to pull out the close win after what had happened the previous evening because he knows how grumpy he gets after a tough defeat.
"We've just had a lot of tough losses this season," he said. "I know Parrish looked at me a little incredulously when I said that. He said 'But you're 19-8'. But to me, all the losses are excrutiating. I sit around at home and stew about it, but I then come to the park and the kids are all fresh and excited and then the cloud lifts for me."
Wagner feels that his team, which had beaten Port Washington the night before for its second straight North Shore Conference win, is very close to getting all its kinks worked out.
"When they put up those six runs, they got a seeing-eye goundball to the left side and then another one to the right side. That's baseball," he said, "but then we make a couple of mental mistakes. We've talked about this to the kids. We get the 21 outs we're supposed to and we're fine, but when we start giving the other team 24 and 25 outs that's when we get into trouble."
And trouble such as what occurred Friday night leads to a loss of bragging rights for a year.
"It's always an important game for the kids," Wagner said. "It's crosstown rivals. The kids grew up playing against each other."
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