“State or bust.”
That’s what Oak Creek pitcher Chris Bournelis said is his team's motto.
If the Knights continue to get performances like the one the senior and his teammates put forth Friday afternoon, busting will be pretty tricky to do.
Bournelis pitched a complete game and struck out nine in a hard-fought, 5-1 win over host South Milwaukee in Friday afternoon WIAA sectional.
“For Chris to go out today and throw seven was huge, especially in this heat,” Oak Creek head coach Scott Holler said. “He really battled, really kept the ball down. I think he threw 100 pitches, and only 30 were balls.
“That’s about as efficient as you can be.”
Added Bournelis: “My fastball was faster than normal I guess. (Catcher) Josh (Jesko) calls a good game, I was just hitting his glove.”
The senior hurler didn’t have to be too fine with his pitches, as his offense gave him a nice cushion to work with early on, methodically working in runs in the second, third and fourth innings to quickly build a 5-0 lead.
In those three innings, the Knights only had one extra-base hit, but still managed to find away around the bases against a variety of pitchers for the Rockets.
“We’re not a juggernaut on offense by any means,” Holler said. “We have to play a little small ball.
“We’ve asked all guys, 1-9, to bunt at some point in the season. That’s kind of the way it’s been going lately. We’re getting about five or six (runs) a game, and usually that’s been about enough.”
As the game, and the heat, wore on, it looked as though the South Milwaukee offense was finally wearing down the Oak Creek ace.
Junior Alex Cramer led off with a single and quickly stole second base to start the sixth inning. Classmate Chris Krakau promptly knocked Cramer in on a one-out single to finally put the Rockets on the board.
In the seventh, senior Chad Sadowski led off with a single before Jake Zdrojewski was hit by a pitch to give South Milwaukee two on with no out, but Bournelis fanned the final batter in the sixth and struck out the side in the seventh.
“Against any team, when you’re playing in the sectionals you have to hit good pitching; that’s the bottom line,” South Milwaukee head coach John Galewski said. “You have to come up with two-out hits and today we did struggle with that.”
The Knights advance to play the winner of Franklin/Greenfield on Saturday morning