After letting an opportunity to win a regular-season division championship slip through its hands, the New Berlin West baseball team took full advantage of its second chance.
The Vikings pulled out an extra-innings win over Cudahy in the quarterfinals July 5 and then defeated South Milwaukee and Greendale on July 5 to win the Woodland Conference tournament, with a 3-2 win in the title game.
'We were approaching this as if it were the postseason,' New Berlin West coach Tom Farina said. 'It is a tournament, so we were approaching it like it was tournament play, like it was one and done even though we got to play all three games no matter what.'
New Berlin West entered the conference tournament, which was held at the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, as the second seed from the Woodland West division. The Vikings had a chance to win a share of the Woodland West crown with Greendale but were swept by New Berlin Eisenhower in its final division games.
'We didn't win conference, but we could still win the conference tournament with all the same teams,' New Berlin West pitcher Corey Liebherr said. 'It is bragging rights, too.'
Liebherr had already done his part on the mound for New Berlin West, pitching nine strong innings against Cudahy in the quarterfinal, when he stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of a scoreless tie against Greendale.
The senior doubled to left off Greendale's Michael Jankowiak, plating two runs to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead. Liebherr later scored what turned out to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Trevor Duran.
Mitchell Gnadt hit a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to pull Greendale to within 3-2. The Panthers had the potential tying run at third base in the sixth and seventh innings, but Alex Redman didn't crack, getting ground balls to second base to end each inning.
The freshman left-hander didn't allow an earned run despite walking six in a complete-game effort.
New Berlin West received another strong pitching performance in the semifinal against South Milwaukee, as Will Bush allowed just one run on three hits in a complete game to lead the Vikings to a 4-1 win.
The Rockets jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Vikings tied the game with a tally in the fourth.
Bush and Rockets starter Flint Kocherer kept the game tied until the seventh, when New Berlin West scored three times to take the lead.
Nick Paget had two of New Berlin West's three hits. The Vikings drew six walks off Kocherer but also struck out seven times.
Liebherr and Cudahy's Dawson Povolo engaged in a pitcher's duel in a quarterfinal game, with New Berlin West eventually pulling out a 3-2 victory in 10 innings.
'It was a good win,' Farina said. 'It is pretty much what our team has done all year long. We persevered and fought hard. Even when we don't do things right or make mistakes, we let them go and keep battling to the last pitch. That's what we did against a good Cudahy team.'
The Vikings took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI fielder's choice by Liebherr and an error on a fly ball hit by Paget.
Sam Sagan led off the Cudahy second with a single and went to third on a dropped infield pop up. Liebherr then induced a double play, but Sagan scored to pull the Packers to within 2-1.
Povolo and Liebherr kept trading zeros until the sixth when a misplayed fly ball helped Cudahy tie the game. With one out, Austin Pielsnik hit a ball to left field that was misplayed into a triple. Rusty Murphy followed with a groundout to shortstop that scored Pielsnik to even the score at 2-2.
Liebherr recovered to keep Cudahy off the scoreboard over three more innings, exiting after tossing a scoreless ninth. He didn't walk a batter and struck out 10 in nine innings.
'I had a couple of days off after throwing a bullpen in our South Milwaukee tournament,' Liebherr said. 'I pitched well there and I think it carried over. I know playoffs are coming up, so I just want to keep grinding. It seems to be working mixing up pitches. It has been working out well.'
Adam Fritz pitched a scoreless 10th to set give New Berlin West yet another chance to win the game in walk-off fashion.
'(Liebherr) wanted to pitch the 10th inning,' Farina said. 'It wouldn't be fair to put him out there. His pitch count was still fabulous, but we want him to be ready when the postseason starts. If I had thrown him back out there, I think only bad things would have happened.'
An error allowed Justice Dodd to reach against Povolo to start the 10th. Oscar Delvalle followed with a single to right field, but Dodd overran second base. Dodd was eventually tagged out, but he stayed in a rundown long enough to allow Delvalle to get to second.
After Cudahy nearly turned an inning-ending double play, Paget won the game for the Vikings with a sharp single back up the middle.
'He's a freshman that plays like a senior,' Farina said. 'He's done that for us all season long. The situation is never too big for him. I trust him with the bat in his hands as much as anybody we have. It didn't surprise me.'