The Oak Creek and Whitnall baseball teams both found themselves in familiar places at the end of the day Saturday - on the outside looking in on their state tournament hopes.
The Knights' and Falcons' seasons came to an end with losses in the sectional semifinal.
When Oak Creek faced South Milwaukee during the regular season, it was a one-run win for the Knights. In Saturday's sectional semifinal game, with each team's season was on the line, it was another one-run game between those two teams, but the outcome was different this time.
Rockets get the edge
The fourth-seeded Rockets stunned the top-seeded Knights, 5-4, ending Oak Creek's hopes of a WIAA state tournament appearance.
Oak Creek, which won three straight state titles from 2003-05, finished 29-10.
The game did not start out well for the Knights. The Rockets scored three runs off the usually reliable starter Tyler Zemla in the top of the first inning.
Zemla, a senior who had an astounding 0.98 ERA during the regular season, limited the damage after that, blanking South Milwaukee off over the next four innings.
Meanwhile, his teammates helped him out by scoring a run in the second. After the Knights scored three in the fourth inning, Oak Creek had a 4-3 lead. But it wouldn't last long.
The Rocket offense woke up and tagged Zemla for two more runs in the sixth inning to take a one-run lead.
Oak Creek could not muster a run in the final two innings, thus ending its season.
Senior Tyler Magyar led the Knights offense with a home run and contributed all four of the team's RBIs. Junior Ryan Ungerecht was also 2-for-3 and scored half of Oak Creek's runs.
However, it wasn't enough to send the Knights to their second state tournament appearance in three years and fifth in the last eight seasons.
Although Oak Creek had hopes of a deeper run, the Knights successfully replaced 13 seniors from last year's team to finish third in the Greater Metro Conference and set a record for most regular season victories (28) in school history.
The Knights graduate six seniors - Andy Page, Nick Stout, Marco Alicea, Ryan Krzyzkowski, Zemla and Magyar - but return a bulk of its starters including 11 juniors, one sophomore and one freshman.
Falcons stopped short
Whitnall also ended its season by losing, 8-2, to Muskego, a team which the Falcons had also defeated, 7-6, during the regular season.
Whitnall finisged the season at 19-15.
The Falcons' hope for avenging last year's season-ending loss to Muskego evaporated when the Warriors' Cole Borek pitched his team to the sectional semifinal victory at Muskego High School.
The Warriors (29-7) defeated Whitnall behind a complete game from Borek, who cruised through seven innings, only allowing seven Falcon hits while striking out four.
"I try to give my team some energy every time they come to bat," Borek said. "Today was like any other day. I gave my team a great chance to win by giving it my best."
Whitnall senior Brock McGinn took the loss after allowing four runs through the first two innings. McGinn, who struck out one and walked one in his fiving innings of work, settled down after that by not allowing another run the next three innings.
But Muskego put the game out of reach when they erupted for four runs in the sixth inning off relief pitcher Nolyn White.
White was the winning pitcher in the team's 5-2 regional final victory over Waukesha North on July 20. He was also effective at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Luke Mentkowski (3-for-4) scored the team's other run.
Otherwise, the Whitnall offense was absent thanks in large part to Borek.
This loss for Whitnall comes a year after Muskego defeated the Falcons, 15-13, in an intense, 10-inning sectional final.
The Falcons were confident entering the game, but after the six-run loss, they are still searching for their first WIAA state tournament appearance since 2001.
Whitnall graduates 12 seniors from a team that was ranked in the top 10 in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association preseason poll.
- Additional reporting by Matt Gardner
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