A week filled with more questions than answers ended on an explosive note for the Nicolet baseball team on July 12, when the Knights belted out eight runs in the sixth to erase a 2-1 deficit and close the regular season with a 9-2 win over Greendale.
"It was a much better game than yesterday, I can tell you that," Knight coach Dick Sykes said, referring to the 16-5 debacle against south side rival Franklin. "We got a very good game out of (pitcher) Pat Collis, who's rapidly becoming my number two and it's always good to get out of the last week with a win."
The Knights (20-12 overall) also included an 11-5 win over Wauwatosa West and a frustrating 3-2 loss to Grafton in last week's action.
They took on Brown Deer in a WIAA regional final on July 17. The winner advanced to sectional competition at Whitefish Bay's Cahill Park at 11 a.m. Friday, July 20 and would likely face top-seeded Menomonee Falls (33-4), the second-ranked team in the state, in a sectional semifinal. The sectional championship game for the right to advance to the state tournament in Stevens Point July 25 and 26 follows at 5 p.m.
Nicolet beat Falls in the sectional final last season at Stormonth Field to advance to state.
"We'll see which team shows up," Sykes said.
Against Greendale (20-13), it was the good Knights. Collis threw a solid game, allowing two runs in the second but then pitching five shutout innings after that with three strikeouts and three walks. He allowed just five hits.
Greendale starter Kyle Mabry allowed only one run through four innings by was then swapped out for Chris Ridgeway in the fifth. Ridgeway started a nifty double play to get out of a jam in that inning but was smeared badly by Nicolet in the sixth as he faced 11 batters, walking three (one intentionally) and giving up four hits.
The biggest smashes included two-run singles by freshman shortstop Rob Mayer and by senior Jake Majeski. James Sweeney knocked in another run with a single and senior third baseman Jeremy Wall closed things out with a two-run homer to Stormonth School in left.
Majeski (two hits, two RBIs) and Wall (two hits, three RBIs) led the offense.
"We had a couple of things work in our favor," Sykes said. "We wanted to play well so we went in here a little looser with a little more patience and concentration. Our entire infield played well."
Franklin 16, Nicolet 5: A 12-run third by the Greater Metro Conference South Division co-champions did in the Knights as Majeski absorbed the loss. The Sabers (26-12) recorded 16 hits and took advantage of four Nicolet errors.
Cory Katzban had a home run and two RBIs for Nicolet, and Mayer also had two hits.
"I don't know what happened in this one," Sykes said.
Nicolet 11, Wauwatosa West 5: An eight-run second did the trick for the Knights in the rain-shortened, five-inning contest.
Grafton 3, Nicolet 2: Eric Klenner and Conor Fisk combined to limit the Knights to just six hits as Nicolet lost despite no errors and just three walks from Wall.
The Blackhawks scored solo runs in the first, fourth and fifth and Nicolet scored both its tallies in the fourth.
Majeski had two hits for Nicolet.
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