Baseball: ‘Hawks’ pitching leads to success

 

By Erik Lewis

Coming into the season, there were questions about the Warhawks’ pitching staff. Those questions are disappearing after each game for the ’Hawks (22-4, 13-1 WIAC), who took all four games against UW-Stout over the weekend. Coach John Vodenlich has been impressed with the ’Hawks pitching so far, and he has faith in his entire staff.
“As far as I’m concerned, the longer the games go on, the better the chances I think we have of winning,” Vodenlich said. “Playing a lot of games and playing a lot of nine inning games really makes me feel OK, because one of our strengths is pitching depth.”
With a rotation led by junior Matt Roberts (4-0) and seniors Justin Lambert (5-1) and Tom Kerndt (4-1), the ’Hawks are allowing fewer runs per game as a team this year than last year, with a team ERA of 3.07.
“We’re very excited with where we are,” junior pitcher Scott Plaza said. “Obviously that’s what we expected. Pitching has been outstanding. Starters are going deep into games, and the guys in the bullpen are closing things out right away whenever they need to come in.”
If the ’Hawks, ranked No. 8 in the American Baseball Coaches Association Division III poll, are going to make a run to the College World Series, they will need to keep that up.
Plaza, who has pitched 30 2/3 innings this year and has a 4-0 record in seven appearances, said there is no reason the team cannot make it to the national championship, despite the target on its back.
“Every team in the WIAC knows how good we are and how good we can be,” Plaza said. “Being able to come out, with our offense setting the tone and our pitching shutting them down, that’s tough for them to compete against us.”
The final stretch of the season for the ’Hawks is going to be tough, with 15 games before the WIAC tournament, but Vodenlich said he believes it will make the team stronger.
“I think when we get through the next two weeks, I think our team will be even more prepared to make a run into the postseason,” Vodenlich said.

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