By Michael S. Hoey

Correspondent

All the Burlington baseball team had to do to win the Southern Lakes Conference championship was sweep the Delavan-Darien Comets (2-14, 1-13) last week. They completed the first step of that mission but were pushed hard in the second before coming away with the win.

Burlington defeated the Comets in Delavan 11-1 on May 16 but struggled to complete the sweep in Burlington on Friday. D-DHS jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and Burlington did not take the lead until the fifth on the way to a hard-fought 5-3 victory.

The Comets loaded the bases in the first inning. With one out, Noal Brouwer singled, Eric Gonzalez walked, and Ryan Hoey was hit by a pitch. Brouwer scored on a sacrifice fly by Oliver Hetzel. Seth Sybesma singled to reload the bases. Freshman Payton McCann brought Gonzalez and Hoey home with a single, and the Comets had a 3-0 lead.

“It was phenomenal to be able to get up on a team like this,” Coach Mike Grover said.

Grover said the game meant a lot to Burlington (14-6, 10-4) as a loss would have meant sharing the SLC title with Waterford (9-5). He said getting three runs off of Burlington starting pitcher Drew Pesick put the Comets at ease and allowed them to play much more relaxed. Grover also said the defense, though not perfect, was much better than it has been recently.

Unfortunately, the Comets almost gave the entire lead back to Burlington in the bottom of the first. With one out, Grant Tully got on with a bunt single. Trey Krause then followed with another bunt single, and Tully made it to third. Krause stole second, and Christian Brenner brought them both home with a single that made it 3-2.

“It may have been a little bit of the nerves,” Grover said. “That has been a problem all year.”

Grover also said that one mistake was made on defense that led to others in the inning. Brouwer, he said, settled down nicely and threw a good game, though he threw a lot of pitches and had to be removed in the fifth inning.

“He wastes some pitches now and then,” Grover said. “With the new pitching regulations (pitch counts), you have to be very efficient.”

The Comets got off to a good start in the second inning with a lead-off single by Ben Butke, but then the Demons changed pitchers. Jason Adams was brought in and shut the Comets down for the rest of the game giving up just one hit.

“He threw strikes,” Grover said. “He was a little bit all over the place, which was probably a good thing for him.”

Burlington tied the game in the bottom of the third. Krause led off with a double, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. The Demons later loaded the bases but could not do any further damage.

Burlington went ahead in the fifth with Sybesma pitching. Brenner singled and stole second. He was then caught between second and third on a pick-off attempt but reached third safely on an error. Tucker Strommen then walked and stole second. Sam Grover made a great catch of a line drive to short off the bat of Bryce Morris, but Joe Tully brought Brenner and Strommen home with a single to make it 5-3.

The Comets managed just one walk by Oliver Hetzel over the last two innings on offense, and Burlington held on for the win. Grover said the difference in the game was that Burlington simply made fewer mistakes. He said the Demons made several great defensive plays that kept his team to three outs per inning while the Comets gave the Demons some extra opportunities.

That being said, Grover said this was one of the better outings his young team had all year, especially since the team was playing short-handed and had two freshmen in the starting lineup.

“They did well,” Grover said about McCann and Josh Mick. You had varsity kids 17-18 years old throwing at some kids that are 14, and they handled it well.”

Brouwer gave up six hits and struck out nine in four innings. He also led the team with two hits and a run scored. The Comets were held to five hits overall.

Overall the Comets had a tough week losing four times, but they faced some really good competition that Grover said would prepare them well for the WIAA regional opener against East Troy on Thursday in East Troy. The Comets enter the regional as a No. 5 seed. East Troy (5-12) is No. 4.

“We are excited,” Grover said. “We can’t wait.

The Comets lost to Burlington 11-1 on May 16 at home. The Comets managed just one hit by Sybesma off of three Burlington pitchers.

Burlington scored three times in the first and four times in the fourth          to lead 7-0. D-DHS got on the scoreboard in the fourth. Sybesma got the Comets’ lone hit and advanced to second on a ground out. With two outs, Michell Lewis was hit by a pitch, and Butke reached on an error to load the bases. Sybesma scored on a walk to Grover. That was all the Comets could get. Burlington scored a single run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to end the game.

The Comets also lost twice to Westosha Central. The Comets lost 12-3 at home on May 15. The Comets were outhit 10-5 and made six errors.

After two scoreless innings, the Falcons (14-5, 8-5) took command with a five-run third inning off of Brouwer. Brouwer gave up six runs, but only one was earned because of errors.

The Falcons added five more runs in the next two innings to lead 10-0 before the Comets finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth. Sybesma reached first on an error. With two outs, Hetzel doubled, moving Sybesma to third. Sybesma scored on a wild pitch.

Westosha Central scored twice in the sixth to go up 12-1. The Comets got two in their half of the sixth. With one out, Brouwer doubled and scored on a single by Gonzalez. Gonzalez later scored on a single by Sybesma.

The Comets lost to Westosha Central on the road 10-0 in five innings on May 17. Cooper Griffiths held the Comets to two hits and struck out seven. The Falcons scored three in the second, four in the fourth and three in the fifth to end the game. Brouwer had both of the Comet hits.

 
 

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