Panthers Extend Home Winning Streak To 18 In Dramatic Fashion
April 5, 2014
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team earned a pair of improbable comeback victories Saturday at Henry Aaron Field, sweeping a doubleheader from Oakland University with two ninth-inning comebacks.
The Panthers (8-12, 3-2 Horizon League) finally got the chance to play in Milwaukee this season and extended their winning streak at home to 18 straight with the pair of 4-3 victories over the Golden Grizzlies (4-16, 0-5 Horizon League).
"I thought both of our starting pitchers did a good job to give us an opportunity to win some ballgames," UWM head coach Scott Doffek said. "We scuffled in the batter's box - their pitchers did a really nice job. Mitch Ghelfi was special behind the plate - he did a really good job of shutting the run game down - and kudos goes to our bullpen."
Junior Sam Hammer capped game one, driving in the winning run on the first pitch he saw for the 4-3 comeback victory after the Panthers had trailed 3-2 with just three outs left.
"All day long, I thought he was on every pitch," Doffek said. "He put good quality at bats together so it was good to see him get rewarded."
The Panthers trailed late after Oakland broke a 2-2 deadlock with a run in the top of the ninth. Hammer, who also hit a home run earlier in the game, played the hero role in the ninth.
The Panthers got a quick base runner on a single up the middle from senior Pat Wilson. Oakland made an error on a pickoff attempt, advancing the tying run into scoring position before pinch runner Dan Barwick was sacrificed to third.
Senior Ryan Solberg was hit by a pitch and stole second, with both runners advancing on a wild pitch that tied the game. Following an intentional walk, Hammer singled to right and the celebration was on.
Game two was nearly a carbon-copy. Down 3-2 in the ninth, UWM once again got the leadoff hit, this time by junior Tyler Hermann. Barwick pinch ran and, once again, forced an errant pickoff throw to end up at second. Following a hit batter, junior Derek Peake turned his sac bunt attempt into a hit and the bases were loaded with no outs. The OU defense took a bit of fun out of the rally, turning a double play, but the tying run came home on the play. Wilson then put the topper on the home opener, sending a line drive to the first baseman that he could not handle, allowing the winning run to cross the plate.
That made a winner out of senior Tyler Thicke (2-3), who had the rare distinction of picking up the victory in both games. He worked a scoreless ninth in the nightcap and closed out the ninth in the opener.
UWM managed just seven hits in game two, with Peake (2-for-3) the only player with more than one. It was a strange game overall, as Milwaukee scored four times without an RBI credited to the team.
Junior Cody Peterson started game two, working 6.0 innings in allowing just one run and leaving with the lead. He walked four and struck out three.
In the opener, sophomore Brian Keller threw well, allowing just four hits in 8.1 innings. He struck out four and walked three.
The Panthers collected just six hits in the opener, highlighted by Hammer's day (2-for-4, 2 RBI, run scored), that included his first collegiate home run just inside the foul pole in the third inning.
These two teams wrap up the weekend with a single game Sunday, starting at 12 p.m.