Waukesha West, overcoming a series of delays that pushed its WIAA state quarterfinal game back one day, defeated Germantown with a two-run rally in the sixth on Thursday at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point, 2-1.
The Classic 8 Conference champs got a lift from conference Player of the Year Ryan Solberg, whose one-out triple in the sixth plated the tying run. Solberg scored on Aaron Jushka's subsequent single and gave West the lead.
Pitcher Jeff Neumann allowed one run on three hits in six innings, and Solberg worked the seventh for the save. West will face Franklin in a semifinal later today. Barring a change to the schedule, West would play in the state-title game this evening with a victory.
The game was delayed because of wet grounds, and problems with the lights eventually forced the postponement to this morning.
West coach Chad Montez's quotes, as provided by NOW Newspapers writer David Cotey:
"Jeff Neumann, that’s what he’s done all year for us. He throws strikes consistently. He’s not going to throw it by you; his slider is his best pitch and if he can throw that for a strike consistently and we play defense behind him, we’ll be in every game.
"This is my 13th year at West and we always say, it’s pitching and defense for seven innings. We only had three hits, but if pitch and play defense for seven innings you’ll be in every game. Fortunately we found a way to get two there in the sixth.
"That’s what we expect, especially from Ryan Solberg. He’s a four-year starter and the only player on this team that was at state in '07. He kind of had a bad outing in '07 and said this is redemption time. I expected that out of him, and Aaron has been key all year. Hitting behind Ryan is not an easy task, and he’s done a phenomenal job of that. They’ve been great for us all year and I can’t say enough about their leadership, especially Aaron as a junior. He has taken on a leadership role on this team and then puts it into action on the field.
"(Solberg) has been our closer all year and his leadership and experience and his presence – I mean, you put a 6-5 guy on the mound that throws fairly hard – he makes me relax a little more.
"Last night, people were kind of frustrated with the lights situation, all of us. I said on the way home we can complain and be frustrated with the situation, but as soon as we get back to the hotel, no more complaints. If we focus on the lights, we can’t control that. The focus is on playing three games today. I don’t know if any team has played three games and won it, but we’re going to give it our best."