Max Kaske doesn’t have nicknames for the bats he uses, but after Tuesday’s results he might want to reconsider.
The Port Washington junior switched things up in his last at-bat to turn a good night into a great one as he belted a three-run, moon-shot home run with two out in the top of the seventh to lead the Pirates to an improbable, 6-5 win over No. 1 seed Nicolet in the opening round of the WIAA summer baseball tournament.
“I was on deck and I had my other bat and someone told me to use a different bat,” Kaske said. “I picked it up, felt it, I don’t know I just swung and took it over the fence.”
Kaske’s long ball resurrected Port’s offense, which had been put to sleep after junior Hunter Crass came in to pitch in the fourth inning for the Knights.
Nicolet (18-10 overall, 12-6 NSC) broke open a 2-2 game in the fifth, collecting three straight doubles to lead off the inning and take a 4-2 lead. Sophomore Tyler Crass socked a solo homer in the sixth for the Knights and that looked to be more than enough as Port’s offense had been ineffective since the second.
“We had been talking before the inning that if we could get it to Kaske, we were joking around that he could show them what a home run really looks like,” Port coach Jeff Dormburg said. “He really came through.”
With two on and two out, junior Taylor Davenport came through in the clutch, rocketing an RBI single up the middle to bring the lead run to the plate in Kaske.
The junior wasted no time looking for a pitch to hit as he took a 1-0 fastball right down the middle and crushed it to left-center to give the Pirates the lead.
“I told my assistant coach before the inning, ‘the only guy I don’t want to see is their No. 4 hitter (Kaske),” Nicolet coach Richard Sykes said.
“He’s the only guy that hit the ball hard all night on us and … when he hit that knee-high fast ball, you knew it. That was a legit home run. That ball was hit 365, 370 feet.
“You can’t make mistakes and that’s what cost us again tonight.”
Although Port (7-19 overall, 3-15 North Shore Conference) had beaten Nicolet once already this season, the Pirates’ bench rushed the mound after the final out in celebration of knocking off the No. 1 seed in their sectional.
“Coming in as the eight seed, we knew we had to come to battle today,” Kaske said. “The win means a lot. Our coaches felt we could pull through and we did it. Come Friday we’ll try to bring it home again.”
The Pirates advance to play Whitefish Bay Friday morning at 10 a.m. after the Blue Dukes knocked off Brown Deer 4-0 on Tuesday. The game will be played at Cahill Park.