Franklin — Greenfield baseball coach Lee Kleszczynski couldn't even fathom the number a reporter presented to him after his team's 6-2 loss in a regional final at Franklin on Tuesday.
The number was 743. The significance was that it was the number of career victories Franklin coach Jim Hughes had moved to that night, moving him past former Arrowhead coach Tim O'Driscoll's 742 and into first place as the winningest coach in Wisconsin high school baseball history.
"I mean, how many 20-win seasons is that. Thirty?" Kleszczynski said. "Those are big numbers. Hats off to Jim. He gets his guys to win ball games. He's a good coach."
Hughes called the victory just another game, but acknowledged that he didn't get to 743 on his own.
"You just keep coaching," he said. "I've been around a long time. I've been lucky. I've got good players all the time and we win a number of games each year, you've got to have that as well. And right here, we've got outstanding parents. I've got real good parent support. You put all that together, my family support, and I'm a pretty lucky guy."
A handful of parents presented Hughes and his players with a cake with the number 743 on it and a player gave Hughes a game ball after the victory.
"It's real amazing that he got that many wins," said junior Marcus Schlemm, who belted one of three home runs for the Sabers on Tuesday. "He brought me up at the end of last year and I just got a taste of varsity, but this year it feels great to contribute to his wins."
Added junior Jay Dirienzo, who also homered: "I'm really happy for him. It's unbelievable when a guy gets that many wins in high school."
The Sabers' power surge and the pin-point control of senior ace Brandon Wiedenfeld made No. 743 a reality.
With his team ahead, 3-1, in the bottom of the third inning, Schlemm belted a 3-1 pitch from Greenfield starter Keith Parnau out of the park to center field, an impressive blast from the third baseman not known for his home run power.
"The surprise one was Schlemm because he hit that to dead center," Hughes said. "That's the furthest part of the park. He hit that ball pretty well. That's how you hit a 3-1 pitch. I have preached that all the time, to get on the 3-1 pitch. He got on that one."
Two innings later, Dirienzo led off the bottom of the fifth with a blast to right off reliever Nate Rios and the next batter, Matt Sklander, followed with his team's third long ball of the evening to give Franklin a 6-1 lead.
"They squeaked a few in there and then the three solo home runs really punished us," Kleszczynski. "Watching them the last couple weeks they really peaked at the right time and we made too many mistakes with those home run pitches."
Wiedenfeld improved to 5-4 by allowing one unearned run through five innings. He allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out seven, baffling batter after batter with a well located curveball.
"(Wiedenfeld) took care of a lot of our big hitters with his curveball," Kleszczynski said. "They were coming back (to the dugout) and truly weren't recognizing it. We're a pretty good-hitting team in our own right, especially with Alec Molter - I thought he was going to have a day with these small confines here - but the curveballs kept coming. There was a nice low outside corner for him to go get and he was getting it."
Sixth-seeded Greenfield finished 13-18. Third-seeded Franklin (25-14), winner of eight of its last 11, advanced to Friday's South Milwaukee sectional and will play second-seeded Cudahy in a 1:30 p.m. semifinal. The sectional final is slated for 4:30 p.m., also at South Milwaukee.
"It feels great," Schlemm said. "We've got some momentum going, even from the end of the season and we're just going to carry that through to sectionals and hopefully go to state."
The top-seeded Knights advanced to the sectional by beating eighth-seeded St. Francis, 11-1, in five innings Tuesday at Abendschein Park.
Tyler Zemla (three innings, six strikeouts) and Chris Bournelis combined on a two-hitter as Oak Creek improved to 29-9.
The Knights scored six runs in the third inning. Billy Wallace had a two-run single in the frame and Andy Page had an RBI double.
Oak Creek will face fourth-seeded South Milwaukee at 10:30 a.m. Friday at South Milwaukee. The Rockets scored three times in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat St. Thomas More, 5-4, in a regional final Tuesday and improve to 24-14, a school record for victories.
"I know they can hit the ball and they have a couple of guys that throw strikes," Oak Creek coach Scott Holler said of the Rockets. "I'm not excited about playing them - they're a dangerous team."
The seventh-seeded Panthers' season came to an end with an 8-4 loss to Cudahy in a regional final Tuesday at Sheridan Park in Cudahy.
It was the second time this season the Packers defeated the Panthers, who finished 14-21.
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