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Bay pitching keeps Blue Dukes in North Shore baseball lead

Win three one-run games in a week

June 24, 2014

This is currently the embarrassment of riches that Whitefish Bay baseball coach Jay Wojcinski is dealing with right now.

His coaching rival and friend Ernie Millard at Homestead has jokingly asked if he could borrow one of the Blue Dukes' numerous talented pitchers for a week.

And he's only half-joking.

Because in a week where their bats went quiet, the Blue Dukes maintained a three-game lead in the North Shore Conference and ran their winning streak to 12 games by winning four games last week. Bay won three of the games by one run and in no instance did the Blue Dukes score more than four runs in a single contest.

"The pitching definitely bailed us out," said Blue Duke coach Jay Wojcinski. "We ran into pitching that was almost as good as ours and defense and pitching got us out of a jam."

Bay, which began the week at 10-1 in North Shore play and 15-2 overall, beat West Bend West (2-1) on Friday, June 20, Grafton (4-0) on Thursday, June 19, West Bend East (3-2) on Tuesday, June 17 and Germantown (2-1) on Monday, June 16 (see June 19 edition of the NOW for details on that game).

The Blue Dukes started the week with a three-game advantage over Homestead (7-4 in league) in North Shore play. They end a rugged six-game in seven tries road swing at West Bend West on Thursday, June 26 (5:30 p.m.), and then will host Whitnall on Friday, June 27 (5:30 p.m.) and Sheboygan Falls on Saturday, June 28 (2 p.m.) in a pair of non-conference tilts.

Wojcinski, whose staff has given up just 18 total runs in North Shore play, including just seven in the last eight games, is not getting ahead of himself just yet.

"I'm still convinced that in this conference, anybody can beat anybody else," he said. "We just worry about the game in front of us and worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

"We just have to get a few more hits and make things a little easier for them (the pitchers)."

By the closeness of their games, it wouldn't pay for Bay to do anything else.

Take for instance the 2-1 decision over West on June 20. Nick Lackney threw a complete game effort with just two walks and seven strikeouts, but he still trailed 1-0 going into the sixth.

John Leckie opened the inning with a single. Wojcinski was going to have Joe Kaszubowski bunt but then the West pitcher was called for a balk, which advanced Leckie to second. Kaszubowski still tried to bunt but fouled off one attempt before doubling over the rightfielder's head for the game-tying run.

After Lackney was hit by a pitch, Cole Stasiak then ripped an RBI single to provide the game-winning run. Lackney responded by putting down West in order in the seventh.

"Nick kept the ball down, kept his slider down too," said Wojcinski. "He did a good job of keeping them off-balance."

It was a bit less dramatic in the victory over Grafton as Kaszubowski had nine strikeouts and allowed only two walks. The Dukes supported him with a solo run in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh as Kyle Rogers knocked in two runs and Cal Gavic and Turner DeMuth had two hits apiece.

Wojcinski said that Lackney and Kaszubowski are developing a real competition at the top of the Blue Duke rotation.

"They're always trying to outdo each other," he said.

Add Adam Fuda to the competition, too. In the less-than-easy win over East on June 17, he allowed two unearned runs in the third. Bay tied the score in the fourth with two runs helped out by Henry Davies beating out a groundball to short for a critical RBI.

Then in the seventh, Stasiak came up big again, hitting a two-out, two-strike line drive to center to score the go-ahead run.

Fuda scattered five hits with four strikeouts and no walks.

"You keep the ball down and you don't walk guys; that really helps," said Wojcinski.

Overall, the coach knows that there's more work to do.

"We were pretty fortunate this week," he said. "We didn't hit too well, but the point of it was, that the pitchers we were facing were just a little better than the ones we've faced in the past."

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