It's a now-or-never kind of situation for the senior-laden, 11-2 Whitefish Bay baseball team and the Blue Dukes, despite some occasionally spotty bats, are seizing every opportunity they can so far in an extremely competitive North Shore Conference.
'We have 15 seniors, which is a lot, but in the big picture, I'm not going to complain,' said coach Jay Wojcinski. 'We lost two games which we could have easily won, but I also know we're only a handful of games away from being just .500 because we've won a few games that way, too.
'I'm not going to worry at the moment about not tearing the cover off the ball because our pitching and defense are really good right now.'
The Blue Dukes are part of a logjam in the North Shore as five teams were within two games of each other as of June 14. Bay was sitting at 6-2 while Homestead was in front at 7-1 and Cedarburg, Grafton and West Bend West are also in the hunt.
Wojcinski will work around four senior co-captains this summer. They include four-year varsity letterwinners catcher Teddy Weber and designated hitter/first baseman/pitcher Andrew James. Other co-captains include outfielder Chris Siebert and pitcher/shortstop Jake Rybakowicz.
Other starters for the Blue Dukes include sophomore shortstop Cade Garcia, senior third baseman Jake Fisher, senior centerfielder Macklin Kortebein, and senior Bailey Wieland and sophomore Carson Kimple, who alternate in left field.
Senior Liam Kahn is the ace of the pitching staff. The runs he gave up in the 3-1 loss to Grafton on June 10 were the first he gave up all season after three straight shutouts. He finished that run with a 25-inning scoreless streak.
Other pitchers include Rybakowicz, junior Dylan Weickhardt, Fisher, senior Will Alt, senior Jack Friesch and senior Ryan Hummer.
Wojcinski is counting on the experience to help make a strong run toward the North Shore title.
'This is completely up for grabs,' he said. 'I don't think I could pick any two teams out of all those in the hunt. Teams at the top are playing teams at the bottom, but still, anybody can beat anybody. No one sticks out as being any better than the rest.'
As noted, the pitching and defense has led the way. Opponents have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of Bay's games through June 14.
'We've just been pretty solid that way,' said Wojcinski. 'We're just not giving up that many runs. Pitching will keep us in games day-to-day and we could really be on a roll if we hit even a little bit.'
The loss to Grafton was particularly frustrating that way as the Blue Dukes left 13 runners on base and had the bases loaded three times.
This is a big week for Bay, said Wojcinski, as they took on West Bend West on June 14 and will host Germantown in a 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, contest. They will host Greater Metro Conference power Marquette at noon Saturday, June 18.
'Our hitting's a mystery right now,' said Wojcinski. 'We have guys who can do it.'