Panthers Will Face Flames In Rematch For League Tournament Crown
May 24, 2008
NILES, Ohio - Senior Ben McClarey's complete-game effort lifted the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team to a 7-2 Horizon League Tournament victory over top-seeded UIC Saturday afternoon at Eastwood Field. McClarey came through with the best start of his UWM career, helping the team to its third upset win in five tournament games this week. The Panthers (25-35) live to see another day against the Flames (33-20), as the two teams will now play Sunday at 11 a.m. CST for the right to advance to the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
McClarey (3-1) allowed just one earned run on six hits, striking out four in the longest complete-game outing of his career. He worked out of jams all day, getting the big outs when needed to give Milwaukee a chance to play for the league tournament title for the first time since 2005.
"To get a nine-inning complete game performance like that from Ben (McClarey) is just unbelievable," UWM head coach Scott Doffek said. "At this point, we have played five games so the pitching staff is strung as far as it can be. He was effectively wild and that played into his success, as well, because they got a little over-aggressive at times - and if you do that against Ben you will be in trouble."
Up 4-1 heading into the seventh inning, the Panthers added three insurance runs in the frame, scoring on senior Nick Wichser's sac fly, junior Shawn Wozniak's single and sophomore Shaun Wegner's single.
UWM increased its lead to 4-0 with three runs in the fourth inning, scoring once on freshman Doug Dekoning's single and two more on senior Jesse Hart's seventh home run of the season - giving him 13 runs batted in so far in the tournament.
"Jesse Hart was at it again today and we had a bunch of two-out hits. It was just really a complete game for us," Doffek said. "We are still a long ways away from a title. We have nine more innings to play where we will just come out and try to be good in all phases. That is all you can do at this point. The guys are playing hard and inspired - the senior leadership has been outstanding - and we will see what happens."
The Flames did not get on the scoreboard until the fifth and the Milwaukee defense did a great job to limit them in the frame. The only run scored on a fly ball to right, but senior Troy Vesling turned it into a double play by throwing out Steve McGuiggan trying to advance to second base to end the inning.
McClarey got out of a big jam in the second when the team was up just 1-0, as UIC had runners on second and third with one out after two singles and a sac bunt. He then recorded a comebacker to the mound to hold the runners and a pop out to shortstop to end the threat.
Milwaukee wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard. Junior Andy Gerhartz doubled down the left field line to open the game and was promptly knocked in by Hart, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single past the UIC shortstop.
The offense has not been stopped this week, adding 13 more hits today to mark the 13th-straight game it has recorded 10 or more hits. Hart finished 3-for-5 with three runs batted in and scored twice, while Gerhartz added three hits and three runs. Dekoning also had a multi-hit effort, going 2-for-3 at the plate.
Should the Panthers win tomorrow, it will mark their first trip to the NCAA Regionals since the 2002 campaign. The action will be available via the HLN Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv and also on the UWM website via Gametracker.