West Allis Hale extended what could be called an up and down season on Friday evening with an up and down 9-7 victory over New Berlin West in the WIAA summer baseball regional final.
Junior Nick Sotiros started Hale off on an upswing with a solo home run to give the visiting Huskies the 1-0 advantage early. Sotiros finished the scoring like it started, hitting a second solo home run in the sixth inning, making his two bombs the difference in the final score.
“I just got a good pitch and put a good swing on it,” Sotiros said. “The first one I didn’t think was going but it just kept carrying. The second one I got a 3-1 count and put another good swing on it.”
Hale moves above .500 at 16-15 and will continue on to the Monday sectional at its own ballpark.
New Berlin West, hosting the game after a fine regular season that included a Woodland Conference-Blue Division championship, stormed back with three runs in the first inning to take the lead. With the bases loaded, the Vikings executed back-to-back squeeze bunts, giving West a 3-1 lead.
Like would happen many times in this game, Hale responded in the top half of the second. After scoring on a passed ball to cut the lead to one run, junior Taylor Tomczak drove in fellow junior Zach Smith to tie the game. In the fourth inning, the Huskies took the lead again, posting three runs on four hits off of New Berlin West starter David Tsolak.
Tsolak finished off a fine junior campaign and put forth a great effort on a sticky summer night, despite not being able to shutdown down the Huskies.
“On the mound basically I was doing something that I had not done all year long,” Tsolak said, “I was trying to overthrow and I tried to straighten it out, but I just couldn’t find the zone today.”
In the bottom of the fourth, it was New Berlin West’s turn to answer with two runs and almost more. Senior Zach Scholz smashed a two-run double and eventually ended up on third base with two outs. With the tying run in scoring position, freshman Allen Peil clipped a soft fly ball to shallow left field, where Huskies senior shortstop Dan Sotiros tracked it down with an over-the-shoulder catch.
Each squad scored a pair of runs in the fifth inning and both teams went to the bullpen. Juniors Kevin Marx and Austin Fritz each collected their second hits in that frame for New Berlin West, helping the Vikings continue to fight for the win.
“Our team is one that never gives up,” Tsolak said. “We don’t know what the phrase means, we don’t understand it, we don’t want to understand it and we never will understand it. That’s how we play baseball.”
Brian Kimpel, a junior, came in and pitched three innings of relief, including two shutout innings to close the game out and earn the save. On a night when pitching was at a premium, Kimpel was able to get it done for the Huskies.
"I just had to dig down deep because this wasn’t one of my best games,” Kimpel said. “I just tried to pull something out and I did. My teammates really picked me up today and helped me out a lot.”
New Berlin West finished the year at 22-6, with two of those losses coming at the hands of Hale. Head Coach Tom Farina gave credit to Hale after game but also acknowledged the efforts of his players all season long.
“I’m really proud of my kids because they battled back throughout the entire game and kept battling back all the way up to the last out,” Farina said. “My kids all give me 100 percent, but that’s baseball. Some days you win and some days you lose.”
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