Nighthawks eliminated by New Berlin in Land O' Lakes Game 3 playoff thriller
West Allis can't hold off Lakers in extra innings
West Allis - After the West Allis Nighthawks and New Berlin Lakers traded clunkers in the first two games of their Land O' Lakes Eastern Division playoff series, the teams put together a spectacular show for the finale.
The Lakers rallied from two early deficits and edged the Nighthawks, 9-8, in 10 innings in the deciding game of the best-of-three set on Sunday at Malone Park in New Berlin.
Adam Vlaj hit a two-out bloop single to bring in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th and send the Lakers on to the division championship series against Racine, which began on Wednesday night.
"As far as I was concerned, we (West Allis and New Berlin) were the two best teams in the league this year," said Nighthawks manager Andy Schwall. "You wouldn't expect anything less than these two teams deciding the series in extra innings in Game 3. It was a great baseball game, but unfortunately, we didn't come out on top in the end."
West Allis jumped on top 2-0 in the top of the third inning on a run-scoring single by Joel Hoberg and a sacrifice fly from Brian Stoecklein.
After New Berlin tied the game in its half of the third, the Nighthawks took a 4-2 advantage in the fourth. David Henke singled in one run and Ryan Welch walked with the bases loaded to force in another.
Joe Schreck lined a two-run double in the fifth to make it 6-2, and the Nighthawks were looking good.
Slam hurts 'Hawks
In the fifth, though, Vlaj doubled home two runs for New Berlin, and then the game turned in the bottom of the seventh. Eric Martwick, the Lakers' No. 9 hitter, belted a grand slam to give New Berlin its first lead at 8-6.
West Allis tied it in the top of the ninth, taking advantage of a pair of errors, but New Berlin won it with Vlaj's single in the 10th.
"You have to give their guys credit," Schwall said. "After we jumped out to a quick lead, they could have easily packed it in, but they didn't and just kept after us. They're too good of an offense to hold down for too long.
"Our pitchers have done a great job against them all year. I guess they were due."
The nailbiter in the final game made up for poor outings by one team or the other in the series' first two games.
The Nighthawks drubbed New Berlin, 13-3, in Sunday's opener, ending the game in seven innings on the 10-run lead rule.
West Allis exploded for four runs in the first inning as Randy Reed singled in one run, Scott Sievert doubled to plate two and Schreck singled to bring home Sievert.
In the second, Sievert doubled in two more runs to put his team on top, 6-2. After New Berlin tacked on a run in the bottom of the second, Sievert belted a two-run home run in the fifth for his sixth RBI of the contest.
Reed and Schwall hit home runs in the sixth to increase the lead to 10-3, then Welch singled in two and Hoberg singled in one to put the Nighthawks up by 10.
"We came out loose, confident and ready to roll," Schwall said. "I don't think there was a single player in our dugout who doubted that we could pull off a sweep. Scott (Sievert) was a one-man wrecking crew. Jon Mann settled down after a rough couple of innings and pitched well again. He had an electric fastball and overmatched their hitters from the third inning on, with 11 strikeouts."
No offense, though, in Game 1
The series opened on Aug. 8 with New Berlin's Nolan Peterson hurling a no-hitter in a 3-1 victory.
"Both teams got some bad baseball out of their systems," Schwall said. "We were no-hit and they were run-ruled. Those types of things just don't happen to these two teams."
West Allis and New Berlin staged a classic in the final game, but the Nighthawks were ultimately foiled.
"There is not much else to say, other than we were all pretty disappointed," Schwall said. "The end of the season is never much fun. We'll be back in contention next year."
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