Tyler Kozlowski never let Wauwatosa East get in the game - or even out of the infield.
The Sussex Hamilton senior pitcher allowed two infield singles and one unearned run over seven quality innings, and Sussex Hamilton handled Wauwatosa East in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs at Hamilton on July 10, 7-1. Kozlowski finished with eight strikeouts - he had at least one in every inning - and retired the final seven batters he faced.
"Tyler's been our No. 1 all year," said Hamilton coach Mike Schramek, whose team advanced to Friday's regional against Brookfield East. "He obviously keeps us competitive and he really knows how to command his pitches, when to throw what pitches, where to throw location-wise. It's a luxury to have someone that legitimately has three pitches they can throw, which keeps the opposing team off balance."
Hamilton did commit four errors, including one that allowed Tosa East's lone run to come around in the fourth. But by then, the Chargers had a 5-0 lead, starting with three runs in the opening frame, then sent eight batters to the plate in the fourth and claimed two more tallies.
Kozlowski, whose arsenal includes a splitter, changeup and cut fastball, allowed a two-out single in the first on Matt Carpenter's slow roller to third but got out of the inning when cleanup batter Riley Poe was ruled out for batter's interference on a steal attempt. Hamilton then scored on Tim Biron's single and plated two unearned runs when Tosa East committed consecutive infield errors with two outs, leading to the 3-0 edge.
Bobby Russ had the lone additional hit for the Red Raiders, who finished the year 9-20.
"I think we might have come in a little up tight with regionals and all that," Tosa East coach Brian Karas said. "The middle-end of the game, we started to ease up and made plays."
As evidence, the Red Raiders did not commit another error after the tumultuous first frame.
The two teams played wildly different games in the regular season. Hamilton defeated Tosa East, 10-0, and the Red Raiders returned the favor, 5-1.
"We knew coming in that Sussex has that problem too where they get in slumps where they don't hit," Karas said. "We knew whoever hit the ball tonight was going to come out on top."
Said Schramek, "Last time we played them when we lost, we had 17 pop-ups in that game. We wanted to make sure we were putting the ball on the ground and not making it so easy on the defense."
Karas must now say goodbye to a senior class that included a trio of players who had been on the varsity for three seasons.
"We knew coming in we'd have leadership from our seniors, and that's what we got out of them," he said.
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