The Kettle Moraine baseball team had momentum coming off an outright Classic 8 Conference championship and a regional semifinal win over Waukesha South, but it met a red-hot Wauwatosa East squad on July 12 and couldn't overcome an early deficit. East, the 12th seed in its bracket, beat KM, the No. 4 seed, 10-1.
"You could tell they were confident going in," KM coach Jim Wilkinson said. "Of course, we were too. We had Jason Abatto going for us, who really had been our No. 1 pitcher coming down the stretch, so we were confident, too."
The game was moved from Kettle Moraine's home field, Wales Community Park, to UW-Whitewater because of wet field conditions.
After two innings, Tosa East led, 4-1.
"From there, their pitcher (Jeff Mason) gained some confidence," Wilkinson said. "All he really had to do was throw strikes. We hit the ball decently but right at them, usually. The way I would put it is it was one of those games where we were off. We did not help ourselves defensively and with each inning, they gained more and more confidence. They hit the ball a little bit better every inning, and we just never did start to hit that day."
Even though East came into the game as a 12 seed, Wilkinson wasn't fooled.
"I had no illusions going in that that would be an easy game," Wilkinson said. "They played a ton of close games in the Greater Metro and handled Pewaukee. I certainly wasn't looking at it as any sort of an easy matchup and that proved to be right, of course."
Teig Chase went 2 for 3 with a RBI. Max Herro, Kyle Abatto, Nathan Strelka, Christian Ishag and Brandon Ausprung added one hit each.
Kettle Moraine committed four errors in the game.
"It was just not a good game from us overall," Wilkinson said. "Your first bad game in the playoffs is your last bad game in the playoffs."
Seniors on this year's team were Jason Abatto, Christian Ishag, Matthew Trafton and Cullen Weiss.
Five of the seven first and second team All Conference selections will return in 2018.
"We had a very good JV teams that finished tied for second in the conference," Wilkinson said. "The program, I think, is in very good shape. It's not these seniors will be easily replaced, but we do have players coming up that will fill those spots. The question, though, is who is going to step up as leaders to replace these guys."