West Allis - After an up and down season, the West Allis Hale baseball team came on late, advancing all the way to a WIAA sectional championship contest before falling to eventual state champion Oak Creek.
The Huskies thus ultimately enjoyed the most success of any of the area's four squads in 2012, although Whitnall contended for the Woodland Conference Black Division championship for much of the season and finished with 15 victories overall.
Greenfield and West Allis Central struggled for the most part, although both teams were more competitive than in past seasons, and both had their big moments along the way.
Here is a brief summary of the respective seasons of the teams:
West Allis Hale
The Huskies finished just 9-11 in the Greater Metro Conference during the regular season and lost two of three in the GMC Tournament, but played well in the WIAA tourney.
They routed St. Thomas More, 11-1, before tipping second-seed New Berlin West, 9-7, to win a regional crown. They then blanked South Milwaukee, 10-0, in a sectional semifinal but lost to Oak Creek in the title contest.
"We had a number of guys back who played in the regional final last season," head coach Paul Dooley said. "They are back, and they were hungry. We also were hitting the ball well."
Hale (17-16) was solid up and down the lineup, but among the leaders were senior Dan Sotiros and junior Nick Sotiros.
Dan fit the role of the classic leadoff hitter, batting .384 and walking 24 times to post an on-base percentage of .520 as well as scoring 34 runs. He also provided a bonus by driving in 23 runs, a high total for a leadoff man.
Nick helped Hale in a number of areas, batting .444, including .615 in the final nine games, and bringing in 30 runs. He also went 5-2 as a pitcher with a 1.33 earned-run average.
Overall, he played three different defensive positions and committed only a pair of errors on the season.
A number of other players also keyed the powerful offense, including senior Garet Morgenroth, junior Brian Kimpel, junior Taylor Tomczak, junior Marcel Mundt, senior Patrick Heal, senior Alex Elenteny and senior Sam Versnik.
The Huskies will lose nine seniors: Morgenroth, Dan Sotiros, Heal, Elenteny, Versnik, Travis Beuth, Stephen Metzdorf, Ben Allan and Zach Minch.
Despite never playing a home game due to construction, the Falcons had a solid season at 15-11, including 10-7 in the Woodland Black Division, tied for third with Greendale.
"The kids had a great attitude and work ethic," first-year head coach Ben Krey said. "I can't say enough about the way they made me feel welcome. We had no home field, but no one complained. That says a lot about the character of the kids."
Whitnall swept division champion New Berlin Eisenhower and runnerup Wauwatosa West early in the season to put itself in the race but stumbled down the stretch a bit.
"For a while, the division title was ours to grab," Krey said. "We had our shot."
Junior Sam Mentkowski batted .443, followed by junior Brent Sluka at .394, senior Ian Ray at .333 and junior Josh Serio at .324. Serio paced the team in RBIs with 18 and senior Luke Mentkowski added 17.
Serio was also the ace of the staff with a 5-2 record and 0.94 ERA. Ray and Sam Mentkowski also posted ERAs of 2.00 or less.
The Falcons bid farewell to six seniors in Luke Mentkowski, Ray, Ryan Slattery, Ian Hushek, Bill Weber and Jeff Schalla.
The Hustlin' Hawks went into the season with just four players who had significant varsity experience and struggled to a 5-23 mark.
They were also hurt midway through the campaign by injuries to two of their top pitchers: senior Peter Eidsmoe and sophomore Richard Thomas.
Still, they put together a nice stretch toward the end of the season, including a 4-1 victory over Whitnall behind the pitching of Eidsmoe.
"We went into the regional game confident," head coach Lee Kleszczynski said.
They lost that contest, 6-5, to Greendale, continuing a season-long trend of close defeats. The Hawks dropped six one-run contests, with three of those in the final weeks of the campaign.
Senior Nick Jablonski hit .398 with 22 RBIs and senior Tyler Laverdure was right behind with .396 and 20 RBIs to pace the offense, which had some high moments, including losses of 15-12, 13-8 and 21-14.
Greenfield's seniors are Eidsmoe, Jablonski, Laverdure, Max Hogan, Travis Hyatt and Ryan Manzuk.
West Allis Central
The highlights for the Bulldogs during their 4-23 campaign were victories over Greater Metro Conference foes Muskego and Franklin and a season sweep of rival West Allis Hale.
Other than that, it was a rough year, helped somewhat by the emergence of sophomore Michael Manlick as a formidable pitcher. Manlick blanked Franklin, 3-0, late in the season and did well in most of his games.
Central loses just two seniors, Dane Travers and Mike Phillips, so head coach Rick Hoppert will have plenty to build upon next season.
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