Pitching, attitude led to Whitefish Bay's first NSC baseball title
Dukes set records at 27-6
Though widely known as the goal of the season, the idea of the Whitefish Bay baseball team winning the first North Shore Conference title ever was still a fairly abstract one to veteran coach Jay Wojcinski at the start of the season.
"If you had told me at the beginning of the year that we would win conference, go 27-6 and make the (WIAA) sectional final, I'd have rolled my eyes," said Wojcinski. "We did everything we set out to do except the big thing at the end (get to state).
"It was all there. Most wins in school history, best record in school history and first conference title."
Wojcinski had reason to be optimistic. He had a veteran roster filled with two- and three-year players who had a strong memory of a very sour ending to the 2013 campaign (an upset regional loss to rival Nicolet). The Blue Dukes also had other incentives.
The new Cahill Park diamond with its mix of artificial and real turf with beautiful new stands, backstop, scoreboard, dugouts, the whole smash formally opened this spring and Bay christened it on May 23 in a smashing way as Adam Fuda no-hit eventual Woodland Conference East Division champion Greenfield.
But it was the next day, in a tough non-conference split with spring ball powers Burlington (2-1 loss) and Jefferson (13-11 victory), that Wojcinski got an idea that his team could be something special.
"We all knew that Jefferson was really good," said Wojcinski.. "They were something like 22-2 coming into that game and their pitchers were ridiculous, but we beat those guys and I think that gave us the confidence that we could beat anybody because, as the season went along, we figured out that they were likely the best overall team we played all year.
"And they (Jefferson) wound up winning state D2 that spring. After that, everyone started to believe."
That victory would start a 16-1 streak for the Blue Dukes. They lost their first North Shore game of the season 7-2 to West Bend East but then would win their next 12 league contests. Included in the overall run was a Fuda-authored 5-1 victory over Greater Metro Conference champ Marquette.
The primary engine behind all this success was a deep and talented pitching staff led by juniors Nick Lackney (7-1, 1.04 ERA), Joe Kaszubowski (6-3, 1.23), and Adam Fuda (6-1, 1.04 ERA); and seniors Cole Stasiak (3-1, 1.27) and Kirby Annis.
Overall, the Blue Duke staff posted an impressive team ERA of just 1.23 over 228 innings with nine shutouts and six one-run games.
The offense was not overpowering, but led by team MVP, league co-player of the year and first-team WBCA All-State shortstop Stasiak (.460 batting average, 35 RBIs) as well as senior first baseman Cal Gavic (.455, 31 RBIs), it did enough. John Leckie (.333), Kaszubowski (.333), Henry Davies (.304), Sam Koziol (.320), Annis (.300), Teddy Weber (.327) and all-conference desiginated hitter Andrew James all contributed to the .339 team batting average and 5.7 runs per game mark.
What was more important than the numbers was the attitude. Led by co-captains Stasiak, Gavic, Annis and Turner DeMuth, the Blue Dukes remained low-key and unflappable.
"They were all kind of laid-back," said Wojcinski, "big situations never bothered them. We had lots of tight games in the middle of the season, especially in the middle of that 15-game winning streak we had. Whether we were up or down a run, we knew someone would get a hit or a pitcher would get a big out.
"The situation never really mattered. Middle of the game or the end of the year, we were just very consistent."
That was how the team made history doing what Craig Counsell, David Casey, Garrett DeMuth, Kevin James and Charlie Markson could not in claiming a league title.
Other award winners include Cavic and Stasiak as the team's top hitters, and Lackney and Kaszubowski as the team's top pitchers.
The seniors include Stasiak, Gavic, Annis and DeMuth. Wojcinski said it will be a little tough seeing all of them go but especially the four-year letterwinner DeMuth, because in Wojcinski's tenure, he's always had a DeMuth on the team; be it Turner or his NOW All-Suburban and all-state first baseman brother Garrett.
Wojcinski said next year's senior-dominated team will be more motivated than ever and will get help from 24-3 junior varsity and 21-6 freshman teams.
"We didn't get to state and that hurt," he said, "but it was just Homestead's day (in the sectional final). We'll have another chance."
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