Mukwonago flourishes in seventh inning
Mukwonago starting pitcher Dan Timmers put out as many fires as he could, then started one of his own.
The senior's one-out double in the seventh inning broke a streak of 11 straight batters retired by Waukesha West starter Derek Urban and started a rally that netted the Indians five runs in the seventh inning Tuesday night. The host Wolverines were within two outs of advancing in the WIAA playoffs with a 5-4 edge, but Mukwonago emerged with a 9-6 victory instead.
"With a 1-2 count, I was thinking he would come with the slider," said Timmers. "I tried to sit back on it, drive it into right and it worked out. I feel like we rallied after that, we really got going."
After an AJ Bricco walk, Matt McCartan -- whose error at second base in the fourth had allowed West to score the go-ahead run -- capped a 3 for 4 day with a game-tying single, sending Timmers home with a head-first slide.
"Three mistakes in the field, I felt I could come up big for my team," McCartan said. "I started off really hot (this year), slowed down a little bit and maybe a few games ago started to bring it back around again."
Junior Noah Sadler then belted a two-run double to give the Indians the lead.
"Coach (Chad) Montez has worked me all season outer half, every single pitch," Sadler said. "I went two games without seeing a strike. They finally brought one to me, and I was fortunate enough to get a fastball over the middle of the plate and put good metal on it."
The Indians later scored runs on a bases-loaded walk and wild pitch, tallies that would come in handy when West scored in the top of the seventh and loaded the bases with nobody out against Timmers, putting the tying run on first.
"I think I let my emotions get to me a little bit," said Timmers, who faced West's 2-3-4 hitters to open the final frame. "We had just gotten those runs, I was pumped, and I wasn't as concentrated as I was the rest of the game, so I had a hard time throwing strikes."
That's where senior J.J. Crawford came in. The southpaw was electric, throwing nine of his 12 pitches for a strike and recording two strikeouts and a game-ending pop out to McCartan.
"He's thrown 36 innings now and he's got 42 walks; walks have killed him," Mukwonago head coach Jay Christiansen said of Crawford. "When he throws strikes he's a very good high school pitcher. Tonight, with the season on the line, bases loaded, boom, he was a strike throwing machine. He threw everything right where he wanted it."
Timmers was able to strand two runners on in the third, and catcher Jason Strickler threw out a West runner stealing second and picked another off first to quell a fourth-inning rally. West made four outs on the basepaths during the game, though Mukwonago also made a pair of baserunning gaffes. Timmers faced the minimum in the fifth and sixth, however, before giving way to Crawford after the first four West batters reached in the seventh.
"JJ Crawford is a senior, a second-team All Conference pitcher, and he made some pitches against left-handed hitters," said Montez, who piloted the Wolverines to each of the past three state tournaments. "Those were tough matchups for us. Overall in the game, we just didn't make enough baseball plays. I felt like if we scored five runs, we could win the baseball game, and when you give up nine runs, you're not going to win too many baseball games."
Mukwonago took a 4-0 lead after two innings, but West scored four times against Timmers in the second to knot the score. Alex Kermendy, Mark Switalski and Zack Hastings had RBI singles in that rally. Urban then took over, facing just one batter over the minimum because of a fielding error through the next four innings.
"We faced him earlier in the season and we hit the ball on him a little bit; we had that confidence in our back pocket," Sadler said. "When (Timmers) roped that double, we were all up in the dugout. We knew right away we had them. We got them on the ropes, put runners on and had an opportunity to put some runs on the board and help our pitching out. We executed."
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