Game-Ending Double Play Helps Panthers Escape With Sweep
April 28, 2013
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team completed a three-game weekend series sweep of UIC, but not without some late drama. An unconventional game-ending double play on a foul ball helped stop a ninth-inning rally and gave the home team a 5-4 victory Sunday afternoon at Henry Aaron Field.
The Panthers (18-16, 11-4 Horizon League) limited the Flames (19-21, 8-10 Horizon League) to just three hits on the day, but five errors allowed four unearned runs and opened the door in the final inning.
"We played extremely tentatively," UWM head coach Scott Doffek said. "We got on our heels on defense and let the ball play us. We lost our confidence and lost our edge a little bit. But then at the end of the game, (Mike) Porcaro makes a phenomenal play on the popup and they have a miscommunication on the basepaths. We were very fortunate to win that game - we really had no business winning that game."
Milwaukee took a 5-2 lead into the ninth, but two walks and an error loaded the bases. After a pitching change, a hit batter forced in a run and a groundout plated another and gave UIC runners at second and third with just one out. An intentional walk loaded the bases for Joe Betcher with the tying run 90 feet away.
UWM reliever Alex Erdmann induced a foul ball down the right field line on a 3-1 pitch. Sophomore Michael Porcaro raced into foul territory and made a terrific catch, immediately throwing the ball to home plate to prevent the runner from tagging. But, the UIC runner from second was also advancing to third base and freshman catcher Mitch Ghelfi ran him back to the base before throwing to second to complete the double-play and give the Panthers their fifth victory in the past five days.
That made a winner out of junior Mike Schneider (6-2), who struggled with control but did not allow an earned run in his 5.0 innings of work. He walked six and struck out just one, yielding just three hits and a pair of unearned runs.
Junior Tyler Thicke came in relief and provided three excellent innings. He did not allow a hit in his outing, walked one and struck out four. Erdmann worked out of the bases-loaded jam he came on in the ninth to earn his third save of the season.
Milwaukee came out with some early runs again, scoring once in the first and two more times in the second for a quick 3-0 lead.
"We swung the bat very well early in the game and really controlled the batter's box," Doffek said. "Joey Begel (UIC starter) did a good job after the first three innings of settling down and making pitches."
It stayed that way until the fourth, when the Flames pulled within one, helped along by a pair of UWM errors in the field.
The team enters another busy stretch next week, playing five days in a row starting with a road game at Iowa Tuesday evening.