Kettle Moraine has been making a living out of one-run victories all season. Friday's WIAA regional final at Wales Community Park was just the next chapter.
Chris Trafton laced a walk-off single to right field with the bases loaded and two outs, giving the top-seeded Lasers a 4-3 win over Sussex Hamilton.
"Why wouldn't we be in a game like this?" KM coach Brian Adamczyk mused. "We've been in them all season. It's crazy, and the thing with tonight was the fact we made mistakes, so we were fortunate to get a win against a very solid team."
With the score tied 3-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Kettle Moraine leadoff hitter Keith Koehn was hit by the first pitch in the helmet by Hamilton reliever Sam Leinon. Junior Jake Pohlman executed a sacrifice bunt, allowing Koehn to advance into scoring position. Matt Melbye grounded out to Chargers senior shortstop Aaron Mushall, and after a discussion at the mound, Hamilton head coach Mike Schramek elected to intentionally walk the next two hitters, junior Robbie Dombrowski and senior Dom Nabak, to load the bases. Up came Trafton.
"I've been taking a lot of extra batting practice," Trafton said. "I guess it paid off."
The Chargers (15-15) scored twice in the top of the second inning, benefiting from three Kettle Moraine errors. After two outs, Brodie Engel's ball to center was misplayed by Nabak. Junior Alec McShane, running for sophomore catcher Mike Barnes, came in to score, and Nabak's throw was high and off to the third base side of home plate, allowing Engel to move to second. The next batter was junior Ryan Warzon, who singled home another run.
Kettle Moraine (23-5) scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning. The key hit came from Nabak, who knocked in two runs with a double to left-center field. Koehn, Melbye and courtesy runner, Andrew Trafton scored during the Lasers' uprising.
Nabak, who later made two sensational grabs in center field, got some big-time redemption.
"He's the kind of player that's going to bounce back," Adamczyk said. "He didn't hang his head, he didn't get down, realizing there's a lot of game left, and good things can happen."
Junior Trent Metzger hit a solo home run over the left field fence, tying the game 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning.
Alex Fischer, a left-handed pitcher, worked into the fifth inning before giving way to Leinon.
Koehn pitched six innings for the Lasers. He struck out six, allowing six hits. Austin Wolf, another lefty, was the winning pitcher in relief.
Hamilton coach Mike Scrhramek foresaw a close contest.
"They've been battle-tested and found ways to win the close ones all season," Schramek said. "We stayed in this one tonight. Hats off to Kettle Moraine, but I'm also extremely proud of our kids and their accomplishments."
The Classic 8 Conference champion Lasers own a 13-1 record in one-run games during the 2013 season.
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