In the recent past the Germantown baseball team's pitching staff had been so deep that the Warhawks didn't need the services of Randy Finger.
But time and graduation have taken a toll on the Warhawks' resources and Finger, now in his senior year, was called back to the hill.
And is coach Jeff Wolf and the team ever happy that he did.
Showing command of all his pitches, moving corner to corner and up and down, Finger completely baffled North Shore Conference champion Whitefish Bay on the Blue Dukes' homefield Monday night.
He scattered three hits, worked out of a couple of jams deftly, walked four and struck out an impressive 10, including the last three in a row. He even scored the game's only two runs as the Warhawks stymied the potent Blue Dukes, 2-0.
One of the most important things Finger did tonight was to trust his defense, not an easy thing to do for the 9-14 Warhawks, who in one loss to Grafton last week had committed eight errors.
"I just felt very comfortable throwing whaterver I wanted when I wanted," he said. "We made only one error in the game and that guy came up to me afterward and said 'Don't worry, I have your back.' After that, I felt comfortable throwing anything in any count."
Germantown is now 5-10 in league games and have a hectic last week of the regular season with five more games in five days including three North Shore tilts yet to make up.
Meanwhile, the Blue Dukes finished up their league slate at 14-4 (22-5 overall).
It was the second NSC loss in the last three games for the Blue Dukes but coach Jay Wojcinski was not overly upset.
"Randy (Finger) just pitched really well," said Wojcinski. "He just had everything going. We had a couple of chances, but we couldn't get the big hit."
Indeed, as Finger darted around two runner on situations in the second (flyout and fielder's choice to get out of it), the third (nice diving stop on the outfield grass by second baseman Tyler Kloss and then a more routine play by Kloss) and then in the sixth (hard hit lineout to center).
"Randy was just outstanding for us tonight," said Germantown coach Jeff Wolf. "We had only one error and Randy limited his walks. Anytime we can limit the free bases in a game to four or less, we're going to have a chance.
"...What Randy really had going for him tonight was his confidence. His command was also really good. He kept it down and his breaking ball was as good as its been all year."
Finger said the curveball has been a work in progress all year. He had a good one a few years ago and tried to bring it back earlier this season, but it just took time.
"The start of the year it was not so much with that because I just didn't have the innings," he said of the curveball, "but now that I have more innings under my belt I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with it."
Finger now has a streak of 13 consecutive scoreless innings going for him, heading back to last week's win over West Bend East where he gave up three runs in the first but then threw six innings of shutout ball as the team rallied.
Bay's Cole Stasiak did not pitch badly (two strikeouts and one walk in five innings), but the Warhawks were opportunistic.
Finger walked with two out in the first and then got a great jump on batterymate Sam Essmann's booming double to right-center, scoring easily for a 1-0 lead.
Then in the fourth, Finger himself doubled to center and after a wild pitch, scored on Zach Benn's sacrifice fly.
But it was his pitching that got the job done. Finger got stronger as the game went along, as five of his last six outs were recorded via the strikeout. He struck out the side in the seventh.
"We saw them as the top team (in the conference) and we knew that this would be a really good win," said Finger. "This should give us some momentum for the rest of the week and the (WIAA) tournament too."
"We swung at a couple of pitches early in the count that were out of the zone," said Wojcinski, "but that also had something to do with Randy."
Cal Gavic had four strikeouts in two innings of shutout relief work for Bay.
Meanwhile, Wolf was looking for a lift for his hard-luck team and he may have found it tonight.
"If this doesn't pick us up, I don't know what will," he said.
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