Baseball: UWW wins world series, completes trifecta

By Justin St. Peter

When the NCAA makes a new record book, it should leave an entire chapter reserved for the Warhawks.

The ’Hawks (44-7) beat Emory College (38-13) 7-0 May 27 to win the College World Series and accomplish something that no other college has ever done. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater became the only school in history to win the football, men’s basketball, and baseball championships in the same year.

If that weren’t enough, the Warhawks also won the gymnastics title for the third consecutive year in a row. The men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams each won their respective championships as well, although they do not compete through the NCAA.

The ’Hawks were led by senior pitcher Scott Plaza. Plaza was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Division III World Series after scattering seven hits and nine strikeouts in a complete game shutout.

“When I was warming up in the bullpen, everything felt good,” Plaza said. “I knew I was going to have a good day out there.”

The ’Hawks got it going early with an Adam Gregory sacrifice fly to score Casey Power in the second inning.

In the third, the first four batters for the ’Hawks got on base and scored two runs on back-to-back RBI singles from Michael Gonzalez and Jared Fon.

Dylan Friend and Mikole Pierce added RBI singles in the fourth to make it 5-0.

Emory came into the game ranked No. 22, according to D3baseball.com, and scored 25 runs in two games Monday to advance to the title game.

The Eagles had a chance in the seventh when Jordan Selbach appeared to have a sacrifice fly on a diving catch by Michael Gonzalez. Phillip Maldari left third base early though; the Warhawks appealed and Maldari was ruled out.

The ’Hawks tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the seventh with a Trey Cannon RBI fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Gregory.

“I may be the coach, but they’re the ones on the field,” head baseball coach John Vodenlich said. “I felt like I didn’t do much.”

Plaza, pitching on three days’ rest, wound up on the bottom of the pile as his teammates mobbed him on the mound after Moldari flied out to center to end the game.

“It was heavy, but there is no better feeling than having 30 guys on top of you to support you.”

Friend, Gonzalez, and Power joined Plaza on the all-tournament team.

The No. 3-ranked ‘Hawks got extra motivation going into the tournament.

“We had a lot of confidence going into the tournament,” Plaza said. “Especially (since) D3baseball named us most likely to disappoint in the regional and most likely to disappoint in the World Series, so we had a big chip on our shoulder going in.”

The Warhawks definitely proved them wrong, winning their final 11 games and becoming the only team to go undefeated in the playoffs and World Series (double elimination format).

Vodenlich picked up his 400th win of his managerial career during the World Series on the run to his second title as a manager. He previously won one in 2005.

“This is a special one for me,” Vodenlich said. “My father was with me the last time I won. He’s not with us anymore. So, I want to dedicate this to my family, first and foremost, but then my extended family — the Warhawk family — which is very, very special to me, and ultimately the players because I may be the coach, but they’re the ones on the field.”

 

 

 

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