Glendale - The opportunities were there. Nicolet's baseball team just didn't take advantage.
Playing in a first round game of the WIAA regional last week, the visiting Knights put two runners on base in each of the first two innings against Arrowhead. But neither time could they get the timely hit to jump out to an early lead.
Those missed chances proved costly as the host Warhawks scored once in the bottom of the second inning and twice in the sixth to eventually eliminate Nicolet, 3-1.
The Knights didn't go down though without a fight. Trailing 3-0, they nicked Arrowhead pitcher Matt Gaberino for two hits and scored once in the seventh and had a runner on first when centerfielder Ryan Korngiebel grounded out to second base to end the threat and the game.
"That's how things have kind of gone all season for us," veteran coach Dick Sykes said. "We've had a lot of chances to score all year but just couldn't get the clutch hits when we needed them. We probably could have won another five or six games had we hit when it counted. But those are the things that happen when you finish the year with a 14-17 record."
Arrowhead ended up winning the regional by defeating visiting Homestead on Friday, 1-0. With the two regional wins, Arrowhead's record moved to 22-9 on the year.
Junior pitcher Hunter Crass probably deserved a better fate for the Knights. The right-hander allowed just six hits in the game and two earned runs. He struck out two and walked four.
Nicolet made three errors in the bottom of the second inning when the Warhawks took a 1-0 lead. Back-to-back errors with two outs accounted for that Arrowhead run.
"We didn't make the plays in that inning, it's that simple," Sykes said. "They shouldn't have had a run."
Nicolet outhit the Warhawks by one, collecting seven singles for the night. Junior Ben Henken and junior Tyler Crass had two hits each for the Knights.
The lone run for Nicolet scored in the seventh. With one out, Henken singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third when junior Nolan Wagner grounded out to second. Henken scored when Tyler Crass singled.
Korngiebel and Hunter Crass were left stranded in the first inning and junior Zach Pagel and Henken were left on base in the second.
"We had some break downs on defense that cost us that first run," Sykes said. "This time of the year, you have to make those plays. Overall, we probably played good enough to win. But that didn't happen tonight. The guys played hard all season. I think things look very good for us next season."
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