People get sick at the wrong times.
Happens every day.
But the timing for the Menomonee Falls baseball team in the WIAA sectional semifinal with Homestead on Monday, July 21, could not have been worse, as sophomore ace Ty Weber was hit for nine runs, the last four of which came on Jared Stieve's grand slam to left in the fifth that put the Highlanders up for good in a 10-8 defeat.
'No excuses,' said Indian coach Pat Hansen. 'They hit the ball, but Ty was not 100 percent. He was coming off an ear infection and wasn't quite right.'
How much so?
Weber had entered the game with an 8-0 record and had given up 10 runs all season and his last two outings, including a 2-0 win over Port Washington in a regional semifinal on July 16 (see separate story), had been dominant shutouts.
As it is said, timing is everything.
The loss ended the Indian season at 22-11 while the surging Highlanders (25-7) went on to knock off the sectional's top seed and host Whitefish Bay, 10-4, in the sectional final later that day and earn a berth in this Friday's (July 25) WIAA State Tournament at Kapco Park in Mequon.
The really sad thing about the loss is that Weber had been pitching so well on minimal support, beating Port with only two runs and edging West Allis Hale, 1-0, in the GMC Tournament. In fact, the Falls offense scored as many runs in the Homestead loss as it had in the last three outings for Weber combined.
But it wasn't to be this day.
Falls had taken a 4-0 lead in the first on two-out, two-RBI hits from Tommy Wolf (single) and Lukas Kell (double).
Homestead nicked Weber for a run in the second but Falls got it back in the third on an RBI single by Kell after Boyd Sansone doubled. Falls chased Highlander starter Eric Skaar after one batter in the second.
The Highlanders got back into the game with three in the third on three hits and a hit batter and tied it in the fourth on a double and an RBI groundout.
All told, Homestead would get the leadoff man on in every inning but the first.
But it still looked like Falls was in control as in the fifth. Kell knocked in his fourth run of the game with a single, Adam Vechart plated another with another single and a throwing error to second allowed a third run to come home to make it 8-5 Indians.
It was not to last.
The Homestead fifth started out with a throwing error on a routine grounder and a walk. Weber got a strikeout, but then loaded the bases with another walk (he would finish with a season-high four free passes). Stieve then followed that with a long, strong fly ball that cleared the Cahill Park fence in Bay by 5 feet.
Hansen then mercifully pulled Weber, who had finished almost every other game he had started this season.
'We've come back in a lot of games,' said Stieve, 'and we've hit a lot of good pitching. We're very confident once we score a few runs.'
In the interim, the Highlander bullpen finally shut down the Indians. A one-out walk was issued in the sixth but the Falls runner advanced no further. Homestead picked up a valuable insurance run in the sixth on a triple and a single off reliever Michael Bowe.
Stieve came on in the seventh and promptly walked Kell, who had a career day, but after a pop-out to third, a nifty 3-6 doubleplay ended Falls' hopes.
'Take nothing away from Homestead, they executed and hit and played defense,' said Hansen. 'We could just never get the lead-off man out and in that last inning (for Weber, the fifth), that error was huge because, aside from the home run, they didn't hit the ball that hard that inning.
'We just knew that it would be a grind without Ty at 100 percent.'
Wolf and Zach Kornburger added two hits apiece for Falls to go along with Kell's efforts.