It takes a total team effort to win a regional title and a total team effort is exactly what the Milton High School baseball team got last Thursday.
The Red Hawks won their first regional title since 2012 as Milton defeated Arrowhead, 8-1, in a WIAA Division 1 regional final Thursday, May 30, at Milton High School.
Sophomore pitcher Evan Jackson, junior Ethan Haefner and sophomore Luke Hessenauer headlined the team effort with standout performances.
Jackson gave up just four hits and one run in five innings on the mound, and Haefner and Hessenauer both drove in three runs.
“Couldn’t be happier for these guys, it’s a great group of kids,” Milton head coach Kris Agnew said. “They work really hard and they’re really respectful. They’re a true team. They play together.”
After a scoreless first, Arrowhead plated the first run with a two-out RBI single from Adam Polczynski.
Arrowhead’s Jacob Cinelli swatted a ball into shallow left field the next at-bat, but senior Caleb Dammen made a diving catch to end the inning. Dammen flashed the leather after the catch, which most likely saved a run for the Red Hawks.
Haefner knocked in a run in the bottom of the inning with ground ball up the middle of the field to tie the game at 1-1.
The single also loaded up the bases with two outs.
After taking a strike looking, Hessenauer smacked a ball over the center fielder’s head. The hit cleared the bases and got what was a mostly calm Red Hawk bench out of the dugout and jumping around.
“He’s a big time bat, we’ve always known the bat was there, but we didn’t really have a position for him,” Agnew said. “With some injuries and a couple changes in our team, he got an opportunity and he hasn’t looked back.”
“As soon as we got those first runs on board and Evan was going, I knew we were settling in,” Haefner said.
After Jackson and the Milton defense held Arrowhead scoreless in the top of the third, Nolan Larson scored on an error in the bottom of the inning to extend the lead to 5-1.
Haefner, who started the second-inning rally, continued to make an impact with a 2-RBI double to make it 7-1.
With two outs in the fourth, Arrowhead loaded up the bases. Tyler Loebel drove a ball deep into left field, but Dammen tracked down the long ball.
“I don’t think anybody lacks confidence in our defense,” Haefner said. “Every pitcher pitches contact knowing that they’re going to get outs from the defense.”
The flyout would be the last time Milton would be in any true danger.
Haefner picked up the save with two-hitless innings.
“I just locked into the zone and went batter by batter,” Haefner said.
Dammen added some extra insurance with a sixth-inning RBI.
Freshman Jack Campion and sophomore Charlie Terrill accounted for half of the Red Hawks’ eight runs, with two runs each. Campion collected two hits and Terrill picked up one hit and drew two walks.
Jackson picked up the win on the mound.
“We have so much confidence in him,” Agnew said. “He’s our guy, we have an aura about us when he’s starting. He was great today.”
“He’s our ace,” Haefner said. “When he’s on he’s untouchable. Everyone has confidence in him. When he pitches we know we have a really good chance of winning.”
Milton played in its sectional on Tuesday, June 4. Full recaps of both games will be in next week’s edition of the Milton Courier as well as online at miltoncourieronline.com.