Panthers Fall 9-8 As UIC Rallies In Horizon League Opener
March 22, 2008
CHICAGO, Ill. - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team jumped out to an early lead, fell behind and could not complete a late comeback in falling, 9-8, to UIC Saturday night. The Panthers (3-12, 0-1 Horizon League) and Flames (8-7, 1-0 Horizon League) played on despite game-time temperatures in the low-30's and more than six inches of snow in the downtown Chicago area on Friday.
"I was proud of our guys and the way they came out in these tough conditions," UWM head coach Scott Doffek said. "They really swung the bats well all night. But, if you want to win ball games you have to take care of the ball and you have to throw strikes and we did not do enough of that. When you look back at it, it almost always comes down to walks and miscues and we had a little bit of both."
Down 9-6 in the eighth, the Panthers made it a game with a two-out rally. Sophomore pinch-hitter Shaun Wegner walked and advanced to third on a single by junior Andy Gerhartz. Both runners then scored on senior Jesse Hart's double to left, but Hart was left stranded when UIC reliever Don Phillips induced a pop out to end the inning.
UWM then went 1-2-3 in the ninth as Phillips recorded his second save of the year.
UIC kept chipping away after Milwaukee jumped out to a 6-0 lead, scoring nine unanswered runs from the fourth inning on. The Flames took the lead in the seventh on Tony Altavilla's two-run single and extended their advantage to 9-6 with five runs in the frame.
UWM mounted a furious two-out rally in the third to jump ahead. A one-out single, walk and fielder's choice left runners at first and third with two outs. Senior Nick Wichser started the scoring with a single to center. Junior Shawn Wozniak then followed with his first home run of the season, a deep shot to right field that scored three and went out despite a stiff wind blowing in at Les Miller Field. Another walk and two singles later, senior Troy Vesling was plated on a bang-bang play at the plate on a hit from sophomore Tim Patzman. The team sent 10 batters to the plate and recorded five hits in the frame.
Milwaukee got on the board first in the second inning, scoring once on Vesling's RBI-single to center field. Wichser led off the inning with a line-drive double off the left field wall before being sacrificed to third on a bunt by Wozniak. Vesling found himself down 0-and-2 in the count before sending a sinking liner to center on the next pitch to plate Wichser.
Senior Adam Ferrell (1-2) took the loss, allowing six earned runs in 6.1 innings. He struck out two but walked five. Grant Kohlsteadt (3-1) earned the win, settling down after allowing the six runs early. He worked seven innings, striking out four.
Five different batters finished with two hits for UWM, which had 12 in the contest. Wozniak went 2-for-3 with three runs batted in and Hart finished with two hits and two RBI's. Vesling, Wichser and Gerhartz also had two hits each. Andy Leonard paced the Flames with a perfect 3-for-3 night.
The two teams will finish the series with a doubleheader Easter Sunday, with game one set to start at noon at Les Miller Field in what will probably be similar conditions.
"The playing conditions are the same both ways - it's tough for both teams," Doffek said. "We just have to execute a little better and see what happens."