The Impact beat the Racine Kiwanis in a three game series to win the Land O’ Lakes Eastern Division Playoffs, and is moving onto the Grand Championship next weekend. The Grand Championship is a double elimination format. The Impact’s first opponent is the Burlington Barons, the Southwestern Division Champions. The game is a home game at Horn Field on Saturday, August 24th at 1:30 pm. The Impact will then play on Sunday at Pewaukee again at 1:30 pm. The other team to make it to the Grand Championship is Cedarburg. The final weekend of the Grand Championship is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, August 31st & September 1st.
Last Wednesday night, the Impact kicked off their best to three game series by traveling to Racine and coming away with a 6-1 victory. The game was scoreless until Racine pushed across an unearned run in the bottom of the 5th inning. Then the Impact erupted for 5 runs on 6 hits with a couple Racine errors in the top of the 6th inning to take control of the game. It all started when Sean Staral lead off with a double down the left field line, only the third hit of the game for the Impact. Nick Schmidlkofer followed with a single to left center and Staral was held at third. Joe Kooping walked to load the bases. Then Jake Jewell hit a line drive base hit to center that cleared the bases when the ball got under the centerfielder’s glove. Jewell was thrown out at third, but the Impact took a 3-1 lead. With three more hits that inning by Kevin Schoenbach, Andy Liss and Brandon Kozinski, the Impact added two more runs to go up 5-1.
The Impact picked up an insurance run in the top of the 9th inning when Schmidlkofer hit a long double to left center and Kooping drove him in with a single between third and short. The play at home was a close one as Schmidlkofer was able to slide around avoiding the tag. Leading hitters for the Impact as they pounded out 11 hits were Jake Jewell, Kooping, Liss and Schmidlkofer as they collected 2 hits each.
Dave Mihlsimmer had another stellar start for the Impact picking up his 8th victory of the season and his 2nd in the playoffs to improve his record to 8-2. He went 7 innings allowing only one unearned run on 3 hits, striking out 10, walking 3 and hitting one. He was unhittable over the first four innings with Racine picking up their first hit in the top of the 5th inning. Jake Jewell finished the game pitching 2 innings allowing no runs on no hits, striking out 2 and walking none.
On Sunday the series moved to Horn Field with the Impact looking to take one of two games, preferably the first and they did beating Racine 12-4. They jumped on Racine early scoring 3 runs in the first, 4 in the second and one in the third and were up 8-0 before Racine knew what hit them. In the 1st inning, Sean Staral and Nick Schmidlkofer walked and Jake Jewell singled to drive in Staral. Schmidlkofer stole third and when the catcher’s throw got by the third baseman, he came home to score. Then Nick Paffhausen singled in Jewell. In the second inning, Nick Blanchet lead off with a double, Andy Liss was hit by a pitch, Brandon Kozinski sacrificed to advance the runners, Sean Staral singled in a run and the Joe Kooping hit a 3-Run Homer to left field to make the score 7-0. They pushed across the run in the 3rd inning when Paffhausen scored on a passed ball.
In the top of the 4th inning, Racine made things a little closer when they scored 4 runs on the only two hits that Peter Jewell allowed, one being a base clearing triple. The Impact responded with 2 runs in the bottom of the inning as Schmidlkofer reached on an error, Kooping walked and Paffhausen singled to drive them in extending the lead to 10-4.
The Impact added on a run in the 6th and 8th inning as in the 6th Schmidlkofer walked again and Jake Jewell singled and an error allowed Schmidlkofer to score. In the 8th, Kooping walked, Jewell continued his hot hitting ripping a ground rule double to left center and Paffhausen’s sacrifice fly scored Kooping. Chad Henneberry ripped a single to center, but Jewell was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Jake Jewell lead the Impact 10 hit attack as he collected 3 and Paffhausen collected 2, with the big home run coming from Kooping in the 2nd inning. Peter Jewell took to the mound for the Impact and improved his record to 7-0 (2-0 in the playoffs). He hurled 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on only 2 hits, striking out 8 and walking 3. Cole Borek (not Cole Beatka as this writer mistakenly wrote last week) took to the mound in the 6th inning looking to finish and pick up the save. He could have finished the game as he was on a roll pitching 3 innings allowing only two hits, striking out one and walking one, but Josh Beatka came in the 9th inning to finish off Racine allowing no runs on no hits, striking out two and walking two.
It was only fitting that Beatka finished the game being a veteran ball player and leader of a team that accomplished something for the first time in their long storied history, which was moving onto the Grand Championship. So when Mike O’Connor caught that fly ball in center field to end the game, the celebration began. The champagne had been on ice unknowing to many of the players and was flowing freely after the game, most though was not consumed but used to shower the players on a gorgeous, glorious day at Horn Field.
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