Battle of the birds ends in tie

Battle+of+the+birds+ends+in+tie

April 15, 2015 By Emily Leclair

The No. 1-ranked UW-Whitewater baseball team lost its first WIAC conference games since April 27 of the 2014 season in a six-game stretch last week.

The ’Hawks are 18-3 overall and 8-2 in conference.

“You definitely have to slow things down and take things game by game,” senior Mikole Pierce said.

The ’Hawks started the week on April 7 with back-to-back shutouts against UW-Oshkosh, 8-0 and 4-0.

Junior Curtis Morgan struck out three over six innings and sophomore John Olejniczak completed the first game, holding the Titans to seven hits.

UW-W’s offense recorded 14 hits as a team, and senior Nick Kuhlman and sophomore Steven Chamberlain batted in two runs apiece to lead the team.

Senior Colin Grove pitched his first career complete-game shutout, striking out seven to improve to 5-0 on the season. Grove didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the seventh inning.

Pierce recorded his sixth home run of the season in the top of the first inning to start UW-W’s scoring.

The ’Hawks completed the week with a back-to-back doubleheaders against UW-La Crosse on April 11 and April 12.

UW-W split the series both days with the Eagles winning the first games and losing the second.

“There’s times we didn’t get a big hit when we needed it and there was times we didn’t make the play defensively,” Pierce said.

Morgan earned his fourth win of the season in the first game on April 11, allowing only one run and striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings of work.

The ’Hawks had held its opponents to  28 consecutive scoreless innings before La Crosse scored in the top of the fourth. UW-W had six players knock in runs in the 7-5 win.

The second game remained tied 2-2 until the top of the seventh inning when La Crosse tallied a three-run home run to take the lead for the rest of the game.

The ‘Hawks had a potential comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but fell short.

Chamberlain and senior Adam Gregory led UW-W with two hits apiece.

Grove earned his first loss of the season, allowing seven hits and striking out seven. Senior Andrew Lowe added 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the 6-3  loss.

The second day of the series saw the same results for the ’Hawks.

In the first game, UW-W recorded 14 hits with six doubles and two home runs.

All nine spots in the lineup recorded a hit. Freshman Daytona Bryden led UW-W’s offense going 3-for-4 and recording his first career home run, a double and four runs batted in. Gregory finished 2-for-4 recording the second home run of the game, a double and three runs batted in.

“Daytona’s the kind of player we want in our program,” head coach John Vodenlich said. “He can do it in all aspects. He’s a good offensive player, he’s a good defensive player and we’re excited to have him for the next four years.”

Freshman Lake Bachar earned his third win of the season, striking out seven over six innings.

The Eagles led 4-3 in the top of the fifth, but UW-W came back to score five runs in the bottom of the inning. Pierce’s two-out, two-run double, doubled the score and secured the 16-5 win for the ’Hawks due to run rule.

Freshman Heath Renz took his first loss of the season in the second game, striking out five over five innings.

UW-W led through the fifth inning 4-1, but a six-run sixth inning by La Crosse gave the Eagles the lead for the remainder of the game.

Bryden led the team with three hits, including a triple and senior Casey Power added a two-run home run in the 11-7 loss.

The ’Hawks will play UW-Oshkosh on April 15 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on the road.

“Do we think we’re playing as good as we’re capable of? Of course not,” Vodenlich said. “We have some time to continue to put the pieces together and that’s going to be our plan and our mission from this point on.”

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