Central baseball team reaches goal, qualifies for main GMC tournament
Bulldogs went 5-4 in second round
Most coaches would love to have their teams follow their instructions as well as the West Allis Central baseball squad did this season.
Midway through the campaign, with the team standing at 0-9 in the Greater Metro Conference, head coach Dean Mlachnik told the Bulldogs he wanted them to post a winning record in the second half of the season.
Central did just that by downing Sussex Hamilton 9-3 on July 2 to secure a 5-4 mark in the second round of conference play.
That solid finish put the Bulldogs in the main GMC tournament for the first time in its four-year history. Previously, Central had been relegated to the lower draw, in which the teams had no chance at the crown.
Bulldogs get eighth seed
Central finished 5-13 in GMC play to take the eighth seed and met top seed Marquette in the first game on July 8.
The Bulldogs (9-16 overall) lost both games to the Hilltoppers this season, but the contests were competitive, with scores of 7-3 and 4-1.
The tournament continues Wednesday, July 9, and concludes Thursday, July 10, with all teams playing three games.
"This means a ton to the program," Mlachnik said. "We finally get a chance to play meaningful baseball at the end of the year. The kids are really excited about that.
"We wanted a winning mark in the second half, and the kids turned things around. We are making some strides, and it is a lot of fun."
Central's only losses in the second half came against Menomonee Falls, Brookfield Central, Marquette and Oak Creek, who happen to be the top four seeds in the GMC tourney.
Mike Manlick pitched the victory over Hamilton on July 2, allowing seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
"His off-speed stuff was fantastic," Mlachnik said, "and he only threw 75 pitches."
He was supported by Jason Alvarez with two hits, both doubles, two runs batted in and two runs scored; Brandon Maglio with two hits, one run and one RBI; and Kurt Mlachnik with two hits and one run.
The Bulldogs fell behind 2-0 but rallied with four runs in the third and five in the fourth.
Central lost its regular-season GMC finale to Oak Creek 9-1 on July 1, managing just two hits.
Central battles Greendale
The Bulldogs also met once-beaten Greendale (24-1) in a non-conference contest on July 2 and battled all the way before falling 8-7.
Central was down 7-3 heading into the top of the sixth inning but rallied for four runs to tie the game.
Josh Kopplin started things off with a booming double; then Mlachnik reached on an infield single, and Maglio walked to load the bases.
Alvarez singled in one run, and Manlick brought in another with a ground out. The other two runs came in on errors.
In the bottom of the sixth, though, Greendale's Angel Ramirez singled, stole second, took third on a ground out and came home on a two-out error to make it 8-7.
The Bulldogs then were retired in the seventh by Greendale's relief ace, Zach Miller.
Central struck first with two in the opening inning on a double from Brenden Conigliaro and added another in the second on singles by Dan Doyle and David Mlachnik and a squeeze bunt from Kurt Mlachnik.
The Panthers took the lead in the second on a three-run home run from Tristian Pipp and then added two in the fourth for their 7-3 lead.
Alvarez finished with two hits and an RBI for Central.
After the GMC tournament, the Bulldogs will play in the WIAA tourney, which begins Tuesday, July 15, and continues Friday, July 18.
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