WIAA REGIONAL FINAL
By Christine Hibbs
WAUKESHA — Having to work from behind didn’t seem to faze Catholic Memorial senior pitcher Matthew Schulze.
Trailing by two runs through two innings, the fourth-seeded Catholic Memorial Crusaders rallied at the plate, while Schulze took care of business on the mound. CMH moves on with an 8-3 victory against fifthseeded Mukwonago (17-3) in WIAA regional final game Friday.
Catholic Memorial High School (21-10) will now face ninth-seeded Sussex Hamilton at 11 a.m. Monday at Waukesha West.
“I just kept playing my game. I didn’t really pay too much attention to the scoreboard,” Schulze said. “I just kept playing my game and let my fielder’s do the work. That’s what I’ve done all year. I was just throw strikes and guys were hitting the ball, and the rest of my team was making the plays.”
Mukwonago started off with junior Alex Doud making the rounds in the top of the first off an RBI double by senior Noah Sadler. Sadler later instigated Mukwonago’s defensive play of the game, making a throw from center field to home plate with senior catcher Jeff Johnson applying the tag for the third out in the bottom of the fourth to stop CMH with only two runs scored.
Previously, the Indians had taken a 3-1 edge in the top of the second. That’s when Schulze and Co. buckled down.
“After that third run came across, he really got dialed in,” Catholic Memorial coach Tim Gotzler said of Schulze. “That’s the best outing I’ve seen in his career. I wanted him out there for all seven, and he earned the right. He pitched his heart out.”
Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Crusaders evened it up in the third inning with seniors David Mcleod and Matthew Rechner making the rounds. Rechner led CMH at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI.
With Schulze retiring Mukwonago in the top of the fourth, the Crusaders went to the bottom half to take a two run lead with seniors Cameron Krausert and Zach Fridl making the rounds before Sadler’s throw to home plate brought the inning to a halt.
Ahead 5-3, CMH added two more runs in the fifth and another in the sixth, while stopping the Indians short.
“We were a little spotty after the second inning,” Mukwonago coach Jay Christiansen said. “I didn’t think we were awful. I thought at times we were hitting the ball harder than they were, but it was always right at them. They made the plays. They did a very nice job. They came to play. They’re a very senior-dominated team. Very experienced kids, they looked like it all year, and tonight it really showed up.”
“I think a lot of it comes back to a mental block we had. We played a tight game on Tuesday, 4-2 against Brookfield East, and that shook off a lot of nerves,” Gotzler said. “I really think the pressure filled situations, the magnitude, the intensity prepared us for tonight. So, tonight we could just play baseball like we’ve done the other 30 times this year. It’s the same game, just a little higher level. Our guys’ confidence grew as we executed offensively and defensively, and momentum was on our side.”
In the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, Schulze only faced 11 batters total, his defense standing behind him.
“I give (my defense) a lot of credit,” Schulze said. “They’ve been there the whole year for me. They kept it going strong today, and that’s when I really needed it.”
Photo credits: Top - Mukwonago senior second baseman Payton Graham misses the throw from the outfield, allowing Catholic Memorial senior David McLeod to run back safe to second base in the bottom of the third inning of WIAA regional play Friday at Infinity Fields. Robert F. Borkowski/Special to The Freeman
Bottom - Catholic Memorial senior pitcher Matthew Schulze throws against Mukwonago in a WIAA regional game Friday at Infinity Fields. Robert F. Borkowski/Special to The Freeman