Muskego ousts defending champion West in regional baseball contest
Warriors, Thomka blank Vikings 8-0
There will be no repeat in 2014.
New Berlin West, which staged a series of dramatic comebacks en route to the summer baseball state championship last season, won't play in this year's sectional after Muskego ground out an 8-0 victory on July 18 in a regional championship game.
Muskego struck early, with Brett Finke and Luke Thomka opening with a triple and double in the first inning to plate what proved to be the only run the Warriors would need.
The Warriors added two more runs in the third when Michael Frasher and Caleb Wagner batted in Jared Baldwin and Ryan Tobin, respectively.
The Vikings came close to putting a run on the board when Andrew Knoll reached third on a double from Nate Henrichs, but a fly ball from Tim Rink was caught by the Warriors' Frasher to end the threat.
Warriors had focus
"At bat, we were focused today," said Muskego head coach Jacob Paige. "We were patient and took advantage of our pitch. Our offense the last couple of weeks has been down, but the last few games or so, we've been back where we want to be."
Muskego added a run in the fifth before catching fire in the sixth inning to round out the scoring.
Adam Fritz started things off for the Warriors when he was walked by Vikings pitcher Corey Liebherr. Fritz stole second and scored on an RBI single from Finke.
Ryan Tobin drove in Finke, and Baldwin, courtesy-running for Thomka, was batted in by Daniel Malak. Tobin reached home on a single from Frasher to round out the scoring at 8-0.
Thomka pitched a complete game, allowing three hits and striking out 13 hitters.
He finished the game as well as he started it. After the Vikings were called for interference and picked up two outs on one play in the seventh inning, Thomka struck out the Vikings' last batter of the season to pick up the victory.
"He (Thomka) did his job," said Vikings head coach Tom Farina. "He said, 'If you're going to keep swinging, I'm going to keep throwing them there.' He controlled our hitters and the game."
Thomka said, "I came out and trusted my teammates. The job did itself. We played our game. We're hitting the ball like this, putting up runs, no errors."
Paige added, "Hats off to New Berlin West. They had a good season. They battled. We pulled away in the sixth with good at bats. We're playing pretty well right now."
West, owning the 11th seed, came into the contest after taking down sixth-seeded Greenfield on July 15.
"We had a young team," Farina said. "Five sophomores, two freshmen, a bunch of juniors and four seniors. We struggled early on, and I don't think that everyone was on the same page, but as the year went on, they matured.
"The younger players didn't get that as the defending state champions, we got everyone's best game. In the last two to three weeks, they really became a team, and that's why we had late-season success. We started to learn, and I am excited about the future. We'll miss our seniors, but we have a good crop of kids returning."
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