Muskego baseball team improves steadily in 2014 campaign
Warriors' pitching develops throughout season
Through some peaks and valleys, the Muskego baseball team improved during the 2014 season.
The Warriors, helped by a five-game midseason winning streak, stayed in the race for the Classic 8 Conference championship until the final week of the season, finishing 12-9.
They also beat WIAA sectional qualifier New Berlin Eisenhower and state tournament entrant Oak Creek in non-conference play en route to an 18-12 overall record.
"We got better as the season went on," said head coach Jacob Paige. "We had our ups and downs, but we came together as a team."
The hitting was consistent through most of the season, but the Muskego pitching became more and more of a factor.
"Our pitching is definitely one of the things that got stronger as the season went on," Paige said.
Junior Luke Thomka emerged as the staff ace, posting an 8-2 mark with five complete games and an earned-run average of 4.08.
Thomka was a bulldog and a battler, as shown in the Warriors' 4-2 loss to Oak Creek in sectional play on July 21.
He worked five innings, allowing just three hits while striking out five. He struggled with his control, walking seven, and that proved to be a factor in the game.
He allowed a run in the first inning on an infield single and three straight walks, the last coming on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded.
Muskego tied the game in the fourth inning on a walk, single by sophomore Ryan Tobin and fielder's choice grounder from junior Dan Malak.
The Knights scored three runs in the fifth for a 4-1 advantage, but Thomka doubled to start the sixth and came home on a wild pitch to trim the deficit to 4-2. The Warriors, though, could get no closer.
Malak came through
Besides Thomka, junior Noah Jansen and senior Cal Krafcheck were other key pitchers. Malak made some spot starts, the best being in a 4-3 triumph over Mukwonago in the regular-season finale as he struck out 10.
"That gives him something to build on for next year," Paige said.
Thomka earned first-team all-Classic 8 honors, while Tobin and senior Jack Bloomer made the second team.
Muskego loses seniors Bloomer, Krafcheck, Alex Moll, Nick Berry and Bennett Serchen but returns the majority of its squad next season, including Thomka, Malak, Jansen, Tobin and sophomores Michael Frasher, Caleb Wagner and Brett Finke.
"We will miss the seniors, but the other players gained some valuable experience this year," Paige said.
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