They can't break out the Greater Metro Conference baseball championship t-shirts in Oak Creek just yet.
Franklin's Austin Meyer got on four times and Brett Hart's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth scored Tyler Gentz with what proved to be the winning run in a 5-4 decision for the Sabers over the Knights Monday night.
"It's a good old-fashioned Oak Creek win," chuckled the rightfielder Meyer, whose flare single in the bottom of the sixth, his third hit of the night, sent Gentz to third with one out and set up Hart's sac fly. "I was just looking for a pitch that I could do something with and I got it."
With the win, the Sabers stayed in third place in the GMC at 8-5 (15-5 overall). They have now won seven games in a row and five in a row since top player Evan Kruczynski left for college.
"Now go figure that one out," said veteran Franklin coach Jim Hughes.
Meanwhile, the Knights were prevented from clinching a share of the GMC's regular season title. They are 12-3 in league play and 14-4 overall. Menomonee Falls, which won tonight, is 10-6 in league play. Oak Creek can still clinch a tie with a win against West Allis Hale Tuesday night and then take the title outright with a victory over Marquette on Wednesday.
Still, it was a discouraging night for Oak Creek coach Scott Holler, whose team rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie the score but was unable to pull out the victory.
It was especially frustrating, because he had his ace on the hill, Hayden Krimmer, who was coming off a strong outing against Brookfield Central last week.
But the Knights, who left two runners on the first, couldn't escape tonight and Franklin's Meyer, the lead-off hitter, was the catalyst.
He worked Krimmer to the bone in an eight pitch at-bat in the bottom of the first and finally made something out of nothing when Krimmer jammed him and he gorked a pitch that popped up about 10-15 feet up the first base line. The ball landed about two inches fair and by the time Krimmer and his catcher got there, Meyer was already on first.
"That was a sign of things to come," said Holler, and it was, as the Sabers continued to work the count on Krimmer, who had trouble with his off-speed pitches tonight.
He walked one, he hit another, and in trying to get a force play at second hit by Austin Hein, overthrew the bag resulting in Meyer scoring with the first run of the game.
Three batters later, the Sabers' Kyle Spott looped a full-count pitch over the shortstop's head for a two-RBI single. A play later, another throwing error on the Knights resulted in the fourth run of the inning.
"Last time, they made a bunch of mistakes too," said Hughes, referring to the Knights' early season win over the Sabers, "but this time we were able to take advantage."
It's a recurring theme for his young Knights, said Holler whose team lost a game to Falls last week with the help of a six-run inning that was spotted with Oak Creek errors.
"We've just got to get to a point where we have to stop big innings from happening because of errors," said Holler. "We've had too many innings where we've bunched them (errors) and they have hurt."
Too his credit, Krimmer fought back and pitched three more scoreless innings before giving way to Mitch Makarewicz.
Meanwhile, Franklin starter Ben Zwitter danced away from trouble in the second, again leaving two men on base, but two walks and two singles in the third allowed the Knights to score and cut the margin to 4-1.
But it also brought up the Knights' rangy first baseman Miitch Hart with the bases loaded.
Zwitter, Hughes and all the Saber fans at Hughes Field thought they had Hart caught looking for the third out of the inning, but it was not called thus, and on the next pitch Hart pounded the ball over the centerfielder's head for a three-run double and the score was tied.
"Ben had the strikeout, but it wasn't called," said Meyer and his coach agreed.
Holler, of course, saw it differently.
"He's stepped up for us on more than a couple of occasions," said Holler of Mitch Hart. "In fact, we're trying to get him to become more aggressive early in the cournt because the only time he runs into trouble is when he falls behind. But he's had some serious clutch hits for us."
But that would be Oak Creek's only shot of the evening, as Mike Fortman took over for Zwitter and threw four scoreless innings allowing only two Knight baserunners the rest of the way.
"Fortman did a great job," said Hughes. "He's got a 3-0 record with four saves. We only use him in situations like this."
All that remained was for Franklin to find a way to score a run and the Sabers did that in the sixth. Gentz got on by a single, and after Makarewicz got a strikeout, Meyer looped his flare down the first base line that landed about two feet fair. Gentz easily made it to third. Brett Hart then smacked a deep fly to right that was well more than enough to score Gentz.
In the seventh, Fortman hit a batter with two out, but then got a flyout to right to seal the victory.
"Franklin just played a better game," said Holler. "They made us pay for our mistakes."
Hughes was happy with the good old-fashioned team effort. Meyer got on with three hits, including a double as well as a walk.
"He's been a very good lead-off hitter for us," said Hughes. "He also stole a couple of bases for us. I think he has around 17 of those on the year. ...We've lost our five conference games by a total of nine runs. Maybe now is the right time for us to get a few of them back."
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