Slinger pitcher maintains his mastery over Grafton with shutout win in regional
Slinger pitcher John Sprayberry has played his final season of high school baseball, and the Grafton Black Hawks are quite happy to see him
The senior continued his mastery of Grafton hitters in a WIAA regional semifinal game July 9, helping hand the Hawks a season-ending 2-0
“Sprayberry did a nice job of staying on the attack and making the right pitches when he needed to,” said Grafton coach Brian Durst, whose
team went 0-3 against Slinger this year, each time against the same starter.
“That’s a credit to him. He’s a senior and a very good pitcher in our conference.
“But we also had our chances. We stranded 10 runners.”
In a complete-game performance, Sprayberry scattered eight hits, struck out seven and walked two.
Grafton put two runners on base in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings but couldn’t get a clutch hit. The frustrations continued a pattern
against Sprayberry, who allowed only one run in 19 innings against the Hawks this year, including a pair of North Shore Conference games.
Making things tougher for Grafton was a rough first inning in which Slinger scored two unearned runs.
After Jared Merten reached on an infield error, Sprayberry singled. A double steal put two runners in scoring position.
Nathan Roethle’s sacrifice fly gave the Owls a run, and Derek Merkes’ RBI groundout made it 2-0.
That was the only damage the Owls did against Grafton pitcher Nate Lukas. In going the distance, the junior left-hander allowed only seven
hits, struck out seven and walked two.
“Nate pitched an excellent game. We didn’t give him any run support,” Durst said.
The early deficit wasn’t imposing, even against Sprayberry, according to Durst.
“We didn’t take advantage of our scoring opportunities,” he said. “We kept getting runners on base but then couldn’t finish it.”
In the first inning, the Hawks had two runners called out for interference.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that,” Durst said. “It was a frustrating game.”
Grafton’s offensive leaders were Tim Grams, who went 3-for-3, and Choo Weisflog (2-for-3).
Slinger was led by Ben Lee’s 2-for-3 effort.
The loss left the Hawks with a 13-11 record.
Slinger improved to 16-13 and then defeated Germantown, 4-3, last Friday to advance to sectional play this week. The Owls lost to West
Bend West on Monday.
Despite the quick exit from the playoffs, Durst was pleased with his team’s determined play this season.
“I was really pleased with the attitude and approach of our kids,” he said.
“It was a really enjoyable season from a coaching standpoint. I found myself enjoying going to the ballpark every day.”
Grafton will lose four players to graduation: Grams, Al Nennig, Brett Rasmussen and Matt Donahue.