Panthers Advance To Second Title Game With 8-4 Win Over UIC
May 28, 2005
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team received a 9-for-12 performance from its numbers two, three and four hitters to advance to a second Horizon League Championship game with an 8-4 win over top-seeded UIC Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis.
UIC entered the game from the winner's bracket of the double-elimination tournament, while UWM made its way through the loser's bracket after a day two loss to Youngstown State. The Panthers and Flames will play the final game of the tournament Sunday at 11 a.m. Milwaukee is in search of its fourth tournament title in five trips to the championship game.
The Panthers jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, scoring three runs in the opening frame and adding single runs in both the second and fourth. With one out in the first, senior Brooks Graff and junior Zak Rivera hit back-to-back singles and were followed by junior Joe Nowicki's league-leading ninth home run of the season. Freshman Jesse Hart led off the second inning with a home run of his own, hitting the first pitch of the frame over the wall in left for UWM's fourth run.
In the fourth inning, Hart stroked a one-out double to the wall in right-center field and advanced to third when the centerfielder misplayed the ball. Milwaukee executed a suicide squeeze with the next batter, as Hart scored when the Flame defense could not handle junior Jeremy Wilson's sacrifice bunt.
UIC got on the board in the bottom half of the fourth, scoring three runs to pull within two at 5-3. Larry Gempp Jr. contributed an RBI double for the Flames and was one of two runners to score on a Panther error.
Milwaukee scored single runs again in the fifth and sixth innings and, after allowing a run in the seventh, another in the eighth to maintain a four-run cushion. Graff led off the fifth inning with a single and, three batters later, senior Blake Kangas doubled to the gap in right-center field to him score and make it 6-3. Nowicki provided a pair of late RBI singles for UWM. In the seventh he singled to left field to score Goetz and a single to right scored Graff in the eighth.
Nowicki led the Panther bats, going 3-for-4 with five RBIs and a run scored out of the clean up position. Graff was 3-for-4 with three runs scored out of the No. 2 hole and Rivera had three hits and two walks in five plate appearances as the team's third hitter. Hart also had two hits, as UWM finished with 13 for the game.
Sophomore Robert Michalkiewicz (4-5) threw 8.1 innings in the start, scattering eight hits and being hit for two earned runs. The second-year southpaw also struck out one and walked five on the day. Sophomore Rob Brockel came on to retire the final two batters of the game for his second save of the day and third on the season.
UWM defeated Youngstown State earlier in the day, 12-10, to advance to the championship game. All nine starters collected hits and scored runs as the Panthers pounded out 18 hits in that game.