Central on six-game winning streak through May 2
By Jason Arndt
For many years, Burlington nearly always seemed to have the upper hand in its baseball meetings with Westosha Central, winning six of eight regular season contests since 2016.
But the trends changed last week, when the Falcons, not once, but twice, rallied from behind and defeated the Demons in back-to-back contests to capture a regular season sweep for the first time in seven years.
Falcons coach Jacob Morman, who commended the Burlington program led by Scott Staude, said his team’s resilience serves as a testament to its character.
“Burlington puts so much pressure on you to execute throughout a game and you really need to be into every pitch mentally when you play them,” he said. “To beat Burlington twice in a week and to do it coming from behind in both games I think says a lot about the character of our team.”
Westosha Central, which later defeated Delavan-Darien, boasts an 11-1 overall record and remained atop the Southern Lakes Conference standings at 7-1 as of Monday, May 2.
Including the sweep of Burlington, and victory against Delavan-Darien, the Falcons have won six consecutive contests.
“We feel good about where we are as a team but also recognize that we have room to improve and that is our focus right now,” Morman said.
On Monday, April 25 at Westosha Central, the Falcons fell behind 8-2 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, but slowly chipped away at its deficit and eventually took a 9-8 lead with a four-run bottom of the fifth inning.
The Demons, however, bounced back with a two-run of the seventh inning to reclaim a 10-9 advantage.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Westosha Central down by one run, Falcons’ Mason Mitacek reached on a throwing error to put a runner on base for Seth Brankey.
Brankey, who doubled, advanced Mitacek to third with both scoring on a line drive base hit from Joey Pflug to give the Falcons an 11-10 victory.
The Falcons had four players collect multiple hits including Brankey, who went 3-for-4 with a walk, double, triple, three RBI, and three runs scored.
Chase Kerkman (2-for-4, two runs), Jake Roberts (2-for-3, two doubles, two runs) as well as Adam Switalski (3-for-4) also pitched in at least two hits.
Brankey, meanwhile, picked up the win in relief with a walk and strikeout in one hitless inning.
Pflug (1-for-4, run, 2 RBI), Nick Argersinger (0-for-2, two walks, two RBI) and Jack Rose (0-for-2, walk) drove in runs for Westosha Central.
Burlington’s Kaleb Zabielski took the loss after he allowed two unearned runs on four hits in one inning of work.
Tyler Sagedal (2-for-5, run, RBI) and Wren Dietz (2-for-3, double, two runs, two RBI) recorded multiple hits for Burlington.
Westosha Central, on Thursday, April 28 at Burlington’s Beaumont Field, needed extra innings to put away the Demons to secure a sweep.
The Falcons erased a 3-1 deficit with a four-run top of the fourth inning, which put them ahead 5-3, but the Demons rallied back in the bottom half of the inning to tie the contest at 5-5.
Burlington then added a run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Westosha Central responded, however, tying the contest once again with a run scored in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Scotty Schulz, primarily a pitcher, came up to bat with two outs and a teammate on second base in the top of the eighth inning.
Schulz, who only had one bat on the season up until that point, responded with a double to score the go-ahead run and eventual game-winner.
Morman recalled a conversation he had with Schulz before the at bat.
“I tell Scotty all the time that he has a really nice swing in practice and to stay ready to go because you never known when you’re going to be put in a spot to hit,” Morman said. “Right before the at bat, I repeated that to him and just told him to find some grass and give us the lead.”
“That is exactly what he did as he lined the two strike pitch over the right fielder for a double and the go-ahead RBI.”
Schulz, meanwhile, stepped in to relieve starter Brankey on the pitcher’s mound in the sixth inning.
Schulz struck out three and walked three while holding the Demons hitless through three innings of relief.
“Scott Schulz did a tremendous job for us in that 6th-8th inning keeping Burlington off the scoreboard and closing the game down,” Morman said.
Switalski (2-for-4, walk, double, run, RBI) and Rose (2-for-3, double, run, RBI) each recorded multiple hits.
Other Falcons contributors included Pflug (1-for-1, four walks, double, run), Kerkman (1-for-5, run), Mitacek (1-for-3, RBI), Brankey (1-for-4, double, walk, RBI, run) and Schulz (1-for-1, double, RBI).
Wren Dietz allowed one earned run on one hit through two innings to take the loss for Burlington (5-5, 4-3 SLC).
Burlington received contributions from Zayne Koehnke (2-for-4, two runs), Gage Peterson (2-for-3, double, run, two RBI) and Ryan Dummer (2-for-4, run, RBI).
Westosha Central 6, Delavan-Darien 2
The Falcons broke a 2-2 stalemate with a two-run top of the fifth inning en route to a 6-2 victory against host Delavan-Darien on Friday, April 29.
Westosha Central had eight players recording one hit each.
Contributors consisted of Brankey (1-for-4, double, run), Pflug (1-for-3, double, RBI, walk), Argersinger (1-for-3, run, walk), Rose (1-for-3, double, run, two RBI), Switalski (1-for-3, run, walk), Drew Eckhart (1-for-3, run), Riley Dahms (1-for-2, two RBI) and Caleb Correa (1-for-3, run, RBI).
Dakota Veium tossed five innings, walking one and striking out three, while allowing two earned runs on three hits to earn the victory.
Neil Janssen struck out three, walked four, and allowed two earned runs on five hits and took the loss for the Comets (1-5, 1-5 SLC).
Morman attributes the team’s success thus far to talent as well as depth.
“We have a lot of very talented kids on this year’s team,” he said. “We also have a lot more depth than in years past.”
Meanwhile, in addition to talent and depth, the Falcons coaching staff emphasizes a team mentality.
“We preach that every person on this team has a role and every role no matter how big or small is important to our success,” he said. “I think what you’re seeing is a group of guys buying into that mentality of WE (over) Me.”