Muskego earns first-ever spring win with late rally over Wilmot

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

WHITEWATER, Wis. – The No. 17-ranked Muskego Warriors opened their season against Wilmot on Thursday, in their first game since winning the summer state championship last July. That summer title was the final one in the history of the WIAA after they merged summer ball into spring, and the Warriors proved immediately that they could hang despite adjusting to an all-new schedule.

Quality pitching was the theme of the first four frames. Muskego’s big junior righty, Jacob Leszczynski, started the game and cruised through his four innings of work on the mound – just as he had done in Muskego’s last game in the summer state championship. Leszczynski is an effective strike-thrower and never once had to pitch with a runner on second base.

As for Wilmot, they opted to start Tanner Peterson, who’s headed to Illinois State next fall for his bat and natural instincts in the outfield. Peterson is confident on the rubber and attacks the zone with a healthy mix of fastball and breaking ball, which he seemed to rely on consistently, even when he got behind in the count.

Peterson relinquished the game’s first run in the bottom of the fourth when Minnesota commit Steve Jamroziak, making his varsity debut with the program’s switch to spring ball, muscled a singled into shallow left to start things off. He stole second almost immediately, was moved to third and a soft grounder to short, and scored on a sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Cooper Tamblyn.

The sophomore left-hander, Blake Read, one of the top pitching prospects in the state’s 2021 class, relieved Leszczynski to open the fifth and swiftly struck out the first batter he faced. He walked one and struck out another before lead-off man Leo Falletti lined a single to center that actually drove in the tying run, who had previously advanced on an errant pick-off throw and a wild pitch. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases but Read coaxed a chopper to first baseman Alex Hayes, who made a nice play ranging to his right and fed a covering Read to escape the jam with a tie intact.

Peterson glossed over a quick fifth and Read pitched over a lead-off error to keep a clean sixth, giving his lineup the chance to take the lead in the bottom of the frame. And with Peterson out of the game by this point, the Warriors quickly capitalized.

Muskego sent nine to the plate in the sixth and broke it open when Scott Bulski doubled home the go-ahead run on a lined ball to right-center. Tamblyn backed him up with another double that was grounded sharply down the third base line, scoring the team’s third and fourth runs. The Warriors tacked on a couple more in the half-inning, and sent Read back out in the top of the seventh who locked down the win.

For Muskego, they’re off to a 1-0 start in their program’s first spring ball season – in their team’s first time outdoors this season, according to head coach Jacob Paige, which explains the cold bats through the first few frames. They have West Allis Hale to play at home this Saturday before meeting ranked Franklin on April 6.

As for Wilmot, the Panthers have the makings of a team capable of competing in a tough cutthroat Southern Lakes Conference this spring.