This was terrific way to go into a holiday break: A shutout victory.
St. Francis’ 6-0 Woodland Conference baseball victory over visiting Brown Deer on July 2 gave the Mariners a split of their four-games-in-three-days schedule and sent them into this week with a 6-9 Woodland mark and a 7-12 overall record.
It also gave the Mariners, coach Jim Dorlack noticed, a bit of pep in their step.
“I saw some things,” Dorlack said. “We saw a little bit of excitement and a little bit, maybe a little bit of swagger. I think that’s what we need.”
David Ceranowski pitched six innings and Kevin Swiatczak finished. Ceranowski and Jimmy Kuras each had a couple hits, with Kuras throwing in three runs batted in.
The week started June 30 with a split against visiting Whitnall that could well have been a sweep.
Tony Urbaniak helped the Mariners to a 12-6 victory in the opener by going 4-for-4 with a double, a triple, two runs and four RBIs. Jamin Chilsen was 3-for-3, scored twice and drove home a run. Mike McGeary had two hits and scored three runs.
“They pitched their best pitcher, and it was like we were really ready to play and they focused to win,” Dorlack said. “We had a guy on third with two out in the sixth and we could have run-ruled them — not that that was our goal.
“Then we got in the seventh, and they scored three runs and had the bases loaded. They were a hit or two away from all of sudden getting back into the game.
“It just seemed to carry over into the second game.”
In the nightcap, the Mariners dug out of a 7-1 hole and took a 10-8 lead into the seventh. Whitnall scored twice in the seventh and once in the eighth to emerge with an 11-10 victory.
Josh Gutschow and Kuras each drove in a pair of runs.
“We should have swept Whitnall,” Dorlack said. “Two outs in the top of the seventh, they had bases loaded and there was a play that was a hard play, but ...
“I guess there’s a fine line — and we talk about it — between winning and losing, about getting it done and not getting it done, and it just didn’t go our way. It just seems like a lot of times, when you get to the game being on the line, that things aren’t happening right.”
The Mariners managed only one hit and lost to Cudahy, 5-1.
“The Cudahy game, we didn’t play very well,” Dorlack said. “I don’t know why we weren’t ready to play them, but we just didn’t play a good game.”
Cudahy coach Mike Lessard thinks the Mariners can be a dangerous down the stretch.
“I think St. Francis has improved quite a bit over the course of the year,” Lessard said. “It was one of those crosstown rivalry games, and you kind of throw the records out the window whenever you play a game like that.
“Coach Dorlack has a well-coached team, and you never know what you’re going to get with those guys.”
The Mariners did an about-face against Brown Deer.
“We did come back and play real well (against Brown Deer),” Dorlack said. “I think we shocked Brown Deer. We got them down, 3-0, after two innings. I think they just were not able to deal with coming back. I don’t think it came from coaching, but I think kind they took us for granted a little bit. They came in and weren’t ready to play and I think they thought we were going to fall over and we didn’t.”
Swiatczak contributed a fine defensive play in center field.
“Kevin really had a nice catch,” Dorlack said. “A kid from Brown Deer hit one and it looked like there was no way on God’s green earth that he was going to get to it and he made a diving catch. At the last second, he reached out and got it.
“It was like, no matter what happened, things were going to go our way. Things haven’t seemed to go our way for a long time, so hopefully it’s a change.
“Our record is 7-12 overall, and I think with a few breaks and maybe a little more effort, we could easily be 10-9 or 11-8 and having a very good season.
“Again, there’s just that fine line, and I just hope we keep playing well and can just finish out well.”
Dorlack gave the Mariners three days off after the Brown Deer game.
“I think they need a break,” Dorlack said. “It’s hard for us. We only have 12 kids, and I only have a certain amount of pitchers. We could use the practice, but we also need the rest, too.
“When you play four games in three days, that’s tough on the arms. We need a little bit of a break.”
Jerry Karpowicz can be reached at (262) 446-6628.
Tony Urbaniak, Jamin Chilsen and Mike McGeary were three big reasons St. Francis beat Whitnall, 12-6, in the first game of a doubleheader June 30.
Urbaniak: four hits, four RBIs, two runs
Chilsen: three hits, two runs, one RBI
McGeary: two hits, three runs
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