10-Time Land O Lakes Grand Champions
5-Time SWABA Class A Champions
Overall Record: 7 - 6


The Oconomowoc Five-O's were up against it on Sunday afternoon at McCoy Field in Brookfield. They had taken three straight tough losses and a good Brookfield Blue Sox team awaited. Another defeat and that early-season talk of the playoffs would turn into a pipe dream.

Enter Luke Nelson.

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Wisdom tells us gold cannot be formed unless it first passes through the heat of the crucible. The Oconomowoc Five-O's have spent the last two weeks passing through the heat, both literal and figurative. They now face a stretch of the season that will determine whether or not gold was formed in the midst of the flames.

Oconomowoc was on a 5-2 roll before three straight losses to Monches, Sussex and Pewaukee set back the playoff push, the final two defeats in the 90-plus degree humidity of last weekend. But as tough as those defeats were in the moment, a look at the standings shows the Five-O's still with opportunity. They're just a game out of the playoff structure right now and of five games against the league elite (Pewaukee, Sussex, Brookfield Bulldogs), four of those are in the rearview mirror.

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The Oconomowoc Five-O's started fast and finished strong on Sunday in North Lake. In between, they got solid, mistake-free pitching and posted a 9-3 win.

Oconomowoc got two runs quickly. An error, a stolen base and a base hit by Chandler Ziemann set up a sacrifice fly from Jeff Rhoads for the game's first run. Chandler came around on a ground ball out to first base for a 2-0 lead.

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The last time the Oconomowoc Five-O's made the playoffs was in 2012. They've been close in recent years and have had some big wins. But at the end of the day the second term of Barack Obama's administration has not been a fruitful one for the O's. The early signs of 2016 indicates that the nation's political system might not be the only thing changing - the Five-O's are bearing all the marks of a playoff team.

There are three reasons for optimism - the veteran core showing they've still got it, an infusion of young talent and a restructuring of the league itself that may rebound to Oconomowoc's benefit.

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The Five O's are off to their best start since 2010 behind the right arm of Jordan Murray who tossed a complete game win against formed Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Don August and the Menomonee Falls Lakers on Sunday. Jordan spread out four runs (two earned) on eight hits while striking out six, walking six and hitting two batters. After an uprising by Pabst Blue Ribbon fans last week, they were elated to see Murray bring his pregame attempt back to the team huddle and he did not disappoint. Those PBR fans are quick to point out that the team is 3-0 this year when the Blue Ribbon is involved.

Oconomowoc took an early lead with a run in the top of the 1st and another in the 3rd. Falls came back to tie it with two runs in the bottom of the 5th. The Five O's answered with two more runs in the top of the 6th to make it 4-2 with hits by Derek Nelson and David Beluschak. Things remained that way until the bottom of the 8th when Falls was able to ding Murray for two more runs, tieing the game at 4-4. The Lakers threatened to take the lead but Murray stranded the go-ahead run on second base and that was as close as they would come to scoring the rest of the game. In the top of the 9th leadoff hitter Chris Trafton worked an incredible walk after starting down in the count 0-2 and then stole second base. Josh Bouche then stepped up with a scorching double to center field to give Oconomowoc a 5-4 lead. Menomonee Falls managed a single in the 9th but Murray made sure he did not advance past first base and sealed the win with his 6th strikeout.

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It was more than Opening Day on Sunday at Roosevelt Field. It was also the managerial return of Steve Rhoads, taking on the role for the first time since 1998. And most importantly it was the battle for "The Rock", the red-white-and-blue painted rock that Oconomowoc and North Lake play for possession of, making this a rivalry on par with Alabama-Auburn. It added up to a media circus at Roosevelt akin to the atmosphere of the old carnival days when LOL play opened.

The Five-O's did not disappoint, with a 15-1 rout. It was the first opening day win for Oconomowoc since 2012 and the first time they have been on the good side of a run rule since 2013. Before the first inning was out they had scored eight runs. They took advantage of five walks and four wild pitches, and Derek Nelsons hit to center was the big blow. It would be more than enough for Jordan Murray, who coasted through five innings with 65 pitches and kept North Lake off the scoreboard.

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