When a team is doing as well as Greendale's baseball squad so far this season, there are usually numerous reasons for the success.
The factors behind the Panthers' sizzling 17-1 start include team chemistry, pitching, solid hitting and something they did not enjoy at all last season — home field advantage.
Greendale played last year's entire schedule on the road because of the planned renovation of its field. The Panthers managed to stay afloat under those difficult circumstances, but now that they truly have a field they can call their own, they are thriving.
Unbeaten at home
The Panthers were 13-0 at home going into this week, including victories over traditional powers Oak Creek, Menomonee Falls and Franklin.
'Playing at home has been a huge lift for our team,' said head coach Brian Johnsen. 'Our new field is beautiful, and playing night games has been a great way for our school and community to come together. Our team feeds off the energy our crowds give us. The support from the community is outstanding.'
Johnsen said his team is also an extremely close-knit group.
'We are off to a great start in large part to our team chemistry,' Johnsen continued. 'I have never been around a team as close as this one is. They truly play for each other.
'We have been able to move on quickly from the previous game, win or lose, to refocus ourselves for that particular day. Our team lives for the day.'
Clearly, besides these intangible factors, the Panthers also are blessed with plenty of talent this season.
They have already scored in double digits eight times this season behind a balanced attack led by Zack Henderson, Sam Sabinash, Ty Ramirez, Angel Ramirez and Tristian Pipp, just to name a few.
The pitching staff boasts an earned-run average of under 2.00.
'That is just phenomenal,' Johnsen said. 'They are giving us a chance to win each day. It is our entire staff, not just one pitcher. Ty, Zack and Zach Miller lead the way, but Chris Carloni, Tyler Peterson, Adam Hoefs and Michael Jankowiak have made strong contributions.'
Greendale tipped Pewaukee 6-5 on June 23 as Ty posted the victory, working five innings and striking out eight. Miller came on in relief and threw two strong innings with four strikeouts to earn the save.
Ben Moore collected three hits, and Sabinash added two hits while driving in a run.
The victory gave Greendale a 7-0 mark in the Woodland Conference West Division and a three-game lead over the Pirates heading into a return contest, which was played June 24.
The Panthers topped Waukesha West 11-1 on June 21 behind Jankowiak's first varsity victory. He pitched five innings, fanning six.
Ty Ramirez, Jake Hagmayer and Pipp all tallied two hits. Ramirez and Hagmayer both brought in two runs, and Pipp belted a two-run home run to end the game in the fifth inning.
On June 19, Henderson struck out 10 in five innings as Greendale topped Whitnall 8-2. Henderson also had two doubles and drove in a run, while Sabinash and Angel Ramirez each had two hits and one RBI.
Finally, the Panthers beat New Berlin Eisenhower 11-2 on June 17 as Ty fanned nine in six innings. Sabinash totaled three hits and three RBIs; Miller added two hits and two RBIs; and Hagmayer had two hits.
Greendale meets Cudahy
Greendale visits Cudahy at Sheridan Park at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 26, and is then off until hosting New Berlin West at 7 p.m. Monday, June 30.
The Panthers travel to West at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 1, and welcome West Allis Central at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 2.