UWM Baseball Visits Mizzou Before Opening League Play On The Weekend
Sophomore Brian Keller is Tuesday's probable starter.

Sophomore Brian Keller is Tuesday's probable starter.

March 17, 2014

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team continues to deal with Mother Nature and will now have a busy Spring Break week as a result. In addition to its regularly-scheduled Horizon League series at Youngstown State on the weekend, the Panthers have added a pair of contests and will now hit the road earlier and start the roadtrip with two games against the University of Missouri Tuesday and Wednesday.

UWM Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Last Meeting
Youngstown State*3
May 12, 2013
Henry Aaron Field
Big Inning Sends Panthers To Sweep Of Penguins
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team scored seven runs in the fourth inning and junior Mike Schneider picked up his league-leading eighth win of the season in an 8-3 victory over Youngstown State University Sunday afternoon at Henry Aaron Field.

The midweek games will each get underway at 6 p.m. and will have live stats via GameTracker and a live fee-based video feed as well courtesy of the Mizzou athletic department.

The weekend series is currently set for Eastwood Field for Friday (2 p.m. CST), Saturday (1 p.m. CST) and Sunday (11 a.m. CST). Check back on the UWM website as the dates approach to confirm the YSU series due to weather and field condition situations. Live stats will be available for all three games.

The 2014 campaign marks the 50th season of baseball at UWM. It is also the 45th season of varsity play (the program was played at the club level from 1982-1986) and the 24th in the Panthers NCAA Division I era.

It wasn't easy to get games in (the series at Valparaiso was cancelled last weekend), but after the previous weekend series at UIC was cancelled, the team ended up heading to Clarksville, Tenn., to hop into a weekend round-robin with Akron and Austin Peay. A 10-4 win in the opener got things started on the right foot, but the host Govs scored a walk-off, come-from-behind 5-4 decision in the second contest of the day to spoil the mood. UWM ended up going 1-3 on the weekend, but did bat .320 as a team. Senior Ryan Solberg led the way, batting close to .500 (.467, 7-for-15) with a .556 on-base percentage to pace the offense. Sophomore Nick Unes (.385) and juniors Tyler Hermann (.364), Ryan McShane (.364) and Mike Porcaro (.357) were all at .350 or better. On the mound, junior Cody Peterson improved to 2-0 by allowing just two earned runs in 6.2 innings of work.

Missouri is coming off an uncharacteristic 18-32 season and is 9-9 this year after taking one of three games from No. 17 Tennessee over the weekend. The offense is led by Kendall Keeton (.383), Dylan Kelly (.378) and Eric Anderson (.351). The staff has a 3.09 ERA and the Panthers are scheduled to see Griffin Goodrich (1-0, 2.70 ERA) and Peter Fairbanks (1-1, 6.52 ERA).

Youngstown State went 14-43 a season ago and is off to a 2-12 start to 2014. The roster contains 17 new players out of the 35 on the squad and is led by a 10-member senior class. Alex Larivee (.410) is the top hitter, with Josh White leading the way with eight RBI.

Milwaukee is 1-2 all-time against Missouri, playing a three-game series on the road during the 2006 season when the Tigers were ranked #20 in the country. After dropping 14-3 and 9-5 decisions in the first two games, UWM claimed a 7-2 victory in the finale.

The Panthers are 35-26 in the all-time series against YSU, winning four of six in the series during the 2013 campaign. Milwaukee has also had the upper hand of late, winning 16 of the 23 games played since the 2010 season.

Milwaukee sophomore catcher Mitch Ghelfi was recently named to the initial 2014 Watch List for the "Johnny Bench Award", which is the award given annually to the top NCAA Division I collegiate catcher. According to the award website, the watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists May 15, 2014 and finalists will be announced June 3, 2014. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 17th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 26, 2014.

The February 14th opener to the 2014 campaign was one of the earliest in program history. In fact, four of the top five all-time earliest starts to the season have taken place in the past eight years.

1. 2006: February 10
2. 1999: February 13
3. 2014: February 14
4. 2013: February 15
5. 2007: February 16

Various publications and websites came out with their college baseball previews and players from the Milwaukee roster earned numerous mentions.

Baseball America selected Milwaukee to be the 2014 Horizon League champion in its "College Preview" issue. It picks the Panthers to be the favorite to claim the league title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. The publication also predicts junior Mike Porcaro to be the league player of the year. Senior Sam Koenig (No. 1), junior Gunnar Eastman (No. 4), sophomore Mitch Ghelfi (No. 8) and junior Luke Meeteer (No. 9) are also listed in the "Top 10 Prospects, 2014-15 MLB Drafts" chart.

The "College Sports Madness" website also had Porcaro as the preseason player of the year. It selected Scott Doffek as the coach of the year and Eric Solberg as the freshman of the year. In addition, it had Porcaro, senior Mike Schneider, sophomore Mitch Ghelfi and junior Derek Peake as members of its preseason first-team all-league squad and Koenig, Meeteer and senior Ryan Solberg as members of its second-team.

The "College Baseball Insider" website compiled numerous lists with Milwaukee players receiving plenty of accolades in addition to being named the "Team to Beat" and Scott Doffek the "Best Game Coach". Schneider was one of three "Top Starting Pitchers". Ghelfi took home four top honors in "Best Pure Hitter" (one of three named), "Best Defensive Catcher", "Best Catcher Arm" and "Hitter You Least Want to Face". Koenig was tabbed as the "Best Infield Arm". Porcaro was one of the "Best Pure Hitters" and also named the "Toughest Hitter to Strike Out". Not to be left out, Peake was recognized as the "Most Underrated Hitter" and the speedy Meeteer was honored with the titles of the "Best Defensive Outfielder" and the "Best Baserunner" for the second-straight year.

The Panthers will be busy waiting for the snow to melt away and Henry Aaron Field to be ready for them to play in Milwaukee. While that happens, they will be playing 19 straight road games to open the 2014 slate. That will seem easier compared to other seasons, as the record for longest season-opening road trip was set at 30 games in 2008. Last season, however, will not be forgotten for the bad weather and postponements. Originally scheduled to play the first 20 away from home in 2013, UWM ended up playing 29 on the road (losing 12 contests to the weather overall) before finally playing a home game April 24.

The Panthers will travel close to 10,000 miles over the course of the first six weeks of this season via plane or bus, visiting six different states (California, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) before playing their home opener March 26 against Edgewood. To put that in perspective, that equates to circling the bases 146,269 times.

Junior Mike Porcaro heads into the 2014 campaign with the bar set very high after a spectacular sophomore season in which he was named Horizon League Player of the Year - the first league sophomore to win the award since 1996 - and earned honorable mention status on the CollegeBaseballInsider.com Louisville Slugger All-American squad. That makes him just the second Panther all-time to be named an All-American (Mike Goetz, 2006) and the first underclassman. The Mideast All-Region First-Team and All-Horizon League First-Team selection led the team and league with a .364 batting average. He also recorded team-leading totals of 41 runs, 68 hits, 14 doubles, 43 runs batted in and a .497 slugging percentage. Porcaro finished second in the conference in slugging percentage, runs, triples and hits, third in doubles and on-base percentage (.417) and fourth in total bases.

In addition to Porcaro, the Panthers have the bonus of a handful of players returning who earned Horizon League All-Conference honors a season ago. Junior Derek Peake was named to the first-team after batting .327, stealing 16 bases and leading the league in on-base percentage (.434). Seniors Ryan Solberg (.288, 4 HR, 24 RBI) and Mike Schneider (8-3, 3.64 ERA) and junior Luke Meeteer (.285, .395 OBP, 18 steals) all earned second-team all-league honors and senior Pat Wilson (.287, 17 RBI) was named to the all-newcomer team. Sophomore Mitch Ghelfi (.322, .995 fielding %) rounds out the list. Ghelfi was the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year a season ago.

It may have taken Mitch Ghelfi a couple of weeks to become an everyday starter behind the plate as a freshman in 2013, but once he was there he never let up. Ghelfi went on to earn Horizon League Newcomer of the Year honors and a spot on the conference All-Newcomer squad. In addition, he added national honors as well - getting named to the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American Team and Perfect Game College Freshman All-American First-Team. He batted .322 in 38 games, hitting three home runs and driving in 19. Ghelfi made just one error in the field on the season while also throwing out close to 40 percent of would-be base stealers. He also became just the second Panther freshman in the NCAA Division I era to record a five-hit game, going 5-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI against UIC March 23.

Milwaukee was picked to finish first in the 2014 Horizon League preseason baseball poll. The Panthers were the favorite to win the title in balloting by the conference's six head coaches. They received three first-place votes and topped the poll with 33 points after claiming the regular-season title in 2013. UIC earned one first-place vote and was second with 28 points. Wright State tallied a pair of first-place votes and 27 points to take third. Valparaiso, which won the Horizon League Tournament in 2013, was fourth with 19 points. League newcomer Oakland was fifth with 11 points and Youngstown State rounded out the poll in sixth place with eight points.

Junior Mike Porcaro was voted as the Preseason Player of the Year and Wright State's Travis Hissong was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year in voting of the coaches. For the second-straight year the league also has announced a preseason all-conference team and the Panthers led the way with four members. In addition to Porcaro (2B), senior Sam Koenig (3B), junior Derek Peake (OF) and sophomore Mitch Ghelfi (C) were selected to the 12-player squad.

2014 Horizon League Preseason Baseball Poll
1. Milwaukee (3 first-place votes) - 33 points
2. UIC (1) - 28
3. Wright State (2) - 27
4. Valparaiso - 19
5. Oakland - 11
6. Youngstown State - 8

The Milwaukee baseball program continues to make its mark with the Major League Baseball Draft. For the third-straight season, a Panther was selected when the Milwaukee Brewers made Joshua Uhen their fifth-round choice, also marking the highest-ever round for a UWM player. The program had never had more than one player get selected in the Major League Baseball Draft in the same year in program history. But, following the 2012 season, head coach Scott Doffek saw three of his players chosen in the 2012 MLB Draft with Jordan Guth (Philadelphia Phillies; ninth round), Eric Semmelhack (Milwaukee Brewers; 12th round) and Paul Hoenecke (Los Angeles Dodgers; 24th round) all hearing their names called on draft day. That makes five players in the past three seasons, as Chad Pierce (Milwaukee Brewers; 38th round) was taken in the 2011.

The Panthers' pitching has been steadily getting better each season and has been taken to a new level the past few years. Prior to the 2011 campaign, the school record for ERA was at 4.18 and that stood since 2002. In 2011, UWM just got by that mark at 4.16. The 2012 total of 3.73 shattered the record that lasted for just 12 months and the 2013 ERA was a respectable 4.08. In addition, the .257 opponent average a year ago was the second-lowest in team history, just off the program record of .256 set in 2002.

In the history of the Milwaukee baseball program, nine players have recorded over 200 career hits at the NCAA Division I level after Jonathan Capasso accomplished the feat last season. Senior Sam Koenig has an outside chance to become the 10th player this season.

Below is the current list of the "200 Club".
1. Jesse Hart (2005-08): 267 career hits
2. Doug Dekoning (2008-11): 260
3. Cole Kraft (2008-11): 250
4. Darin Haugom (1997-2001): 245
5. Paul Hoenecke (2009-12): 242
6. Ross McCoy (2004-07): 220
7. Charlie Reschke (2002-05): 213
8. Jonathan Capasso (2010-13): 211
9. Nick Wichser (2004-08): 206
~Koenig: 136 entering 2013

Junior Mike Porcaro is back for his third season of putting together the baseball blog, chronicling the exploits of the team in detail once again. This year, he is once again joined by junior Eric King. Find the link to "Diamond Chronicles" off the baseball page or go to: uwmathletics5.blogspot.com.

You can also follow the baseball team on Twitter @MKE_Baseball. In addition, assistant SID Chris Zills will be updating game scores and highlights when in attendance all season long on his Twitter account at @sidzills.

The Panthers are currently scheduled to open the home portion of the 2014 season next week (Wednesday vs. Edgewood). Updates will be posted to the Milwaukee baseball website due to the weather.



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