Warhawks dominate Finlandia in four-game sweep

Tyler Job, Sports Editor

A 51-3 tally would be a great football or basketball score. Or it would be a great record for any team.

For the No. 20 Warhawk baseball squad, it was the combined score of a four-game sweep it produced over WIAC opponent Finlandia University [Mich.] April 19 and April 20 at Prucha Field at Jim Miller Stadium.

The Warhawks’ dominance over the Lions propelled them to a 20-6 overall record and a 13-1 mark in conference.

“We’ve been playing some pretty damn good baseball,” junior right fielder Alex Doud said. “We’ve been doing everything we’re supposed to do.”

Perhaps UW-W’s most impressive win against Finlandia was in game one when it shutout the Lions 22-0 on 18 hits.

The Warhawks scored six runs in the first, and spread six more through five innings.

Then, they exploded for 10 additional runs in the sixth to effectively end game one by run rule.

The lone home run came from freshman pinch hitter Taylor White, who launched a three-run blast to start UW-W’s enormous sixth inning.

Senior right-hander Michael Kaska earned his fourth victory by pitching five solid innings, and allowing just two hits with five strikeouts.

“I think our focus has just been on us,” head coach John Vodenlich said. “Instead of worrying about them and looking at what they do, I think this week we were just trying to prepare and play better baseball and we absolutely did that.”

The Warhawks once again shutout the Lions in game two by a 10-0 score.

Senior pinch hitter Connor Schneider blew the game wide open in the eighth with an RBI single to right center to hand UW-W a 7-0 lead.

Junior center fielder Noah Jensen then reached on a fielder’s choice that allowed senior third baseman Cal Aldridge to cross home plate.

The Warhawks proceeded to score on two Lions errors – one of them a wild pitch – to give them the shutout win.

UW-W racked up 12 hits, while sophomore pitcher Matt O’Sullivan allowed just two to earn his fourth win.

“We have obviously four, five guys that are in the lineup every single day,” Vodenlich said. “Then we have a number of guys that are coming in and contributing when called upon, and that’s really important as we move into the end of the season because you don’t know who you’re gonna face, you don’t know the matchups, sometimes you need pinch runners and the whole thing.”

The only game of the series the Warhawks allowed runs was in game three, but UW-W still won 9-3.

The Lions trimmed the score to 6-2 after six, but Doud responded with a three-run homer to right to blow the game open once again.

“I’m just going up there with a good approach,” Doud said. “It felt good. Just wasn’t really thinking. Swinging hard and making good contact.”

Sophomore pitcher Westin Muir capped win number four by pitching four punch outs and allowing two hits through five innings.

UW-W closed its four-game set with another 10-0 shutout.

Sophomore shortshop Nick Santoro hit the Warhawks’ lone homer in the second – a solo shot – to hand Whitewater an early 4-0 advantage.

Doud registered five RBIs in game four: three on two singles and two on one double.

“He’s one of our best hitters,” Vodenlich said. “He’s been going through some hitting adjustments, and you gotta be very happy with his swing right now.”

Sophomore left-hander Connor Spear improved to 4-0 on his year in the final game, allowing two hits and striking out three in five innings.

“Those guys go up there and they give their all every single time,” Doud said. “They pound the zone, they make it easy for us in the field.”

It is going to be difficult for Whitewater a duplicate a 51-3 series score with road games against UW-Platteville and UW-La Crosse this week, but the Warhawks so far seem well on their way to yet another WIAC championship.