All season long, the Muskego baseball team had shown resiliency and determination in overcoming deficits and rallying to win games.
The Warriors, however, fell just a bit too far behind Oak Creek in a WIAA sectional championship contest on July 18 at South Milwaukee, and although they battled all the way, they eventually fell short, 12-4.
Muskego trailed the powerful Knights, 2-0, going into the bottom of the fourth inning, but then Oak Creek put together an eight-run burst to go up 10-0.
The Warriors twice staved off a possible 10-run rule loss but could not come all the way back, seeing their season end at 25-7.
'That one inning, we tried to keep that to something manageable, keep us in the game, but it completely unraveled, and that was a dagger for sure,' Muskego coach Jacob Paige said.
Bunt singles hurt
In the fourth, a single to center field, an error and a bunt single loaded the bases with one out; then Joey Richter lined a two-run single to left field.
Another bunt single loaded the bases again, and Oak Creek's next three batters, Luke Posig, DJ Ellifson and Alex Binelas, all singled to plate four more runs. Ben Stanke also singled in a run to make it 10-0, putting the Knights on the verge of ending the game early.
Paige said the bunt singles were costly.
'We pride ourselves all year 'round about not giving away free bases,' he said, 'and today we gave up double digits, which is uncharacteristic of us.'
Oak Creek coach Scott Holler said the bunts showed his team's versatility.
'We tried to do a combination of things,' Holler said. 'We have a little bit of power in our order, but we also can play small-ball, and that's what we did.'
The Warriors then needed to score to keep things going, and they responded with three runs on four hits in the top of the fifth.
Frankie Cistaro doubled into the left-centerfield gap, and infield singles from leadoff hitter Brett Finke and Caleb Wagner loaded the bases. Ryan Tobin singled to score one run, and two more tallied on a wild pitch and error to trim the deficit to 10-3.
Double play keeps game going
Oak Creek struck again in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two runs on a double by Posig and putting the run that would have ended the game on third base. Muskego pitcher Jacob Breider, though, ended the inning on a 5-2-3 double play.
The Warriors tallied once in the sixth on an infield single by Wagner but could come no closer.
Paige was proud of his squad for battling to the end, even against such a large deficit.
'That's our character trait,' the coach said. 'I've got to give credit to our seniors, not letting these guys give in. Our seniors did not let us pack it in. Understanding that 10-0 doesn't look good, but we battled each and every at-bat, and we got ourselves back in the game a little bit.'