After More Schedule Changes, It's Off To Saint Louis
Sophomore Michael Porcaro

Sophomore Michael Porcaro

April 9, 2013

 Games 27-29 | Milwaukee (12-14) at Saint Louis (22-10)
 Date  April 12: 6:30 p.m. | April 13: 1 p.m. | April 14: 12 p.m.
 Location  Saint Louis, Mo. | Billiken Sports Center
 Live Stats  Stats link for series
 Media  UWM audio

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team had hoped for a busy week of five games, but will no longer be hosting a pair of contests at home due to the weather in the Milwaukee area. The Panthers were scheduled to welcome Chicago State University Tuesday and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Wednesday, but Henry Aaron Field is still not yet playable.

UWM Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Instead, on the weekend, UWM heads to Missouri for a three-game non-conference matchup with Saint Louis. The Panthers and the Billikens play at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and close out the series at 12 p.m. Sunday. All five games this week were scheduled to have live stats available on the UWM website. In addition, each was to feature an audio broadcast by assistant SID Kevin Conway.

The 2012 campaign marks the 49th season of baseball at UWM. It is also the 44th season of varsity play (the program was played at the club level from 1982-1986) and the 23rd in the Panthers NCAA Division I era.

The Billikens are off to a 22-10 start overall and have won 10 of their last 11 contests. They were named the preseason favorites to repeat as Atlantic 10 regular-season champions after going 41-18 a season ago and clinching the top seed in the A-10 tournament for the first time in school history. Grant Nelson (.383, 26 runs, 15 RBI) and Braxton Martinez (.349, 17 RBI) pace the offense, which bats .298 as a team. They will also host SIUE Tuesday before welcoming Milwaukee on the weekend.

Milwaukee holds a commanding lead in the series against Chicago State. UWM has won 39 of 50 games all-time - and eight of the past nine - against the Cougars, last playing in 2009. The .780 winning percentage is actually Milwaukee's best against any team. Against Parkside, the series is relatively even, with the Panthers taking 10 wins in 22 meetings, but have won each of the past five dating back to 2001. UWM and Saint Louis met just one time in the past, with the Billikens taking two of three in the 2004 campaign.

The Panthers had a tough go of it, claiming just one win in four road games including a weekend series loss at Youngstown State. Besides a 14-4 victory over YSU on the weekend, UWM managed nine runs in its other three games. Senior Alex Erdmann batted .417 for the week, as did sophomore Derek Peake, who added two walks, four hit-by-pitches, a .611 on-base percentage and three stolen bases. The staff ERA was 6.27, with just senior Jake Long picking up a win (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 K's).

When senior Jake Long earned Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors March 18, it was a career-first. The second time marked a program first, as it was the first time a pitcher ever received the award back-to-back. When Long did it yet again April 1, it marked the first time any pitcher in Horizon League history had ever been honored for three consecutive weeks. He ended up throwing back-to-back shutouts and three complete games in a row. The last UWM pitcher to throw back-to-back shutouts was Robert Michalkiewicz in April of 2007. No pitcher had ever thrown three complete games in a row. Long has also ran his scoreless-inning streak up to 26.0 to break the school record (22.1 by Michalkiewicz in 2007) and approach the Horizon League record of 31.0 set by Butler's John Corcoran in 2002.

Sophomores Derek Peake and Michael Porcaro have been impressive at the plate so far in 2013, with the duo at and near the top of the league hitting chart - Porcaro No. 1 at .378 and Peake No. 2 at .357. Porcaro leads the league in hits (37) and runs scored (23) and has been driving in a lot of runs - he has 25 already (he had 18 all of last season), good for second in the league. Porcaro also tied the school record with two triples in a game at Wright State March 16. Finally healthy, Peake has been a terror, Peake has nearly matched his career totals coming in for hits and runs and is getting on base at a .471 clip.

Junior Mike Schneider is off to a strong start through his first eight appearances, going 4-2 with a 3.09 earned run average. He is one of the top pitchers in the Horizon League so far, leading the league in wins (just one of two with four W's), second in strikeouts (43), seventh in ERA and seventh in innings pitched. His 10 strikeouts against Valparaiso March 30 set a career-high.

The Panthers are off to an 8-4 start in Horizon League play. Not only is that good enough for a hold of first place in the standings, but also marks the best 12-game start in league play since UWM went 11-1 to begin league play in 2001. Also, at 11-11 at one point, Milwaukee was at .500 or better after 22 games for the first time since the 2002 campaign (also 11-11 that season).

The Panthers recorded back-to-back shutouts against UIC March 22-23, something that is very rare in the history of the program. Milwaukee has never had three consecutive shutouts and the last time it had back-to-back whitewashes was April 5, 2000, when the Panthers defeated Wisconsin Lutheran in a doubleheader by scores of 19-0 and 17-0. In fact, it's only been accomplished two other times prior to that: a doubleheader against Chicago State on April 28, 1998 (6-0 and 8-0 twinbill sweep) and also against the Flames in April of 1995 (winning 1-0 and 2-0 on back-to-back days).

Senior Drew Pearson became the first Panther to hit more than one home run in a game this year when he went deep twice against Wright State March 16. The multi-HR game is the first of his career and also the first for a UWM player since Will Fadness did on April 4, 2012. He went deep again against UIC April 23, giving him three pinch-hit home runs (out of six total bombs) in his career. He also went deep in pinch-hitting appearances against Bradley in 2010 and UALR in 2012.

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 2013 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 senior Cale Tassi to be the league pitcher of the year. Sophomore Joshua Uhen (No. 2) and junior Sam Koenig (No. 5) are listed in the "Top Prospects, 2013-14 MLB Drafts" and junior transfer Pat Wilson is one of three top newcomers listed.

The "College Sports Madness" website also had Tassi as the preseason pitcher of the year. In addition, it had Tassi and sophomore Luke Meeteer as members of its preseason first-team all-league squad and Koenig, senior Jonathan Capasso and sophomore Michael Porcaro as members of its second-team.

The "College Baseball Insider" website compiled numerous lists with Milwaukee players receiving plenty of accolades. Tassi was one of three "Top Starting Pitchers" and also the "Pitcher You Least Want To Face". Senior Will Fadness was tabbed the "Best Defensive Catcher" and one of the "Biggest Power Threats" in the conference. The speedy Meeteer was honored with the titles of the "Best Defensive Outfielder" and the "Best Baserunner".

It may have taken Luke Meeteer a couple of weeks to become an everyday starter in the outfield as a freshman in 2012, but once he was there he never let up. Meeteer went on to earn First-Team All-Horizon League honors and a spot on the All-Newcomer squad. He batted a team-high .331 in 48 games, scoring 35 runs and recording 57 hits. He ranked eighth in the league in batting average and led the conference with 16 stolen bases. He ended the season with an active 20 game hitting streak, which had already tied for the fifth-longest in school history (Note: Meeteer had his streak stopped at 23 against New Mexico State).

32: Mike Goetz, 2006
27: Mike Goetz, 2005 (8 games) to 2006 (19)
24: Nick Wichser, 2008
23: Luke Meeteer, 2012 (20) to 2013 (3)
22: Scott Gillitzer, 2001
20: Rob Brockel, 2007

Meeteer became the first Panther freshman in NCAA Division I era to record a five-hit game, going 5-for-6 against Butler in the Horizon League Tournament May 24 and was also the first Milwaukee freshman to be named first-team all-league since Chad Sadowski in 1997.

The 11-0 win over New Mexico State Feb. 15 couldn't come much sooner to start a new campaign, happening in the second game of the year. The only other time a UWM team ever topped that was in 2006, when the Panthers blanked Saint Mary's (CA), 2-0, in the season opener. The other time the Milwaukee pitching staff was able to record an early-season shutout was 2002, when the Panthers beat Radford, 2-0, in the fourth game on the schedule that season.

Milwaukee was picked to finish second in the 2013 Horizon League preseason baseball poll. Valparaiso was the favorite to win the title in balloting by the conference's five head coaches. The Crusaders, who captured last season's regular season and tournament title, received three first place votes. Milwaukee, which finished second in the poll, received the other two first place votes. Wright State finished in third in the preseason poll, behind Valparaiso and Milwaukee. UIC was fourth and Youngstown State rounded out the poll in fifth.

Senior Cale Tassi was voted as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year and Youngstown State third baseman Drew Dosch was named the Preseason Player of the Year in voting of the coaches. Wright State finished in third in the preseason poll, behind Valparaiso and Milwaukee. UIC was fourth and Youngstown State rounded out the poll in fifth. For the first time the league also has announced a preseason all-conference team. Tassi and freshman Luke Meeteer represented the Panthers on the 13-member squad.

2013 Horizon League Preseason Baseball Poll
1. Valparaiso (3 first place votes)
2. Milwaukee (2 first place votes)
3. Wright State
4. UIC
5. Youngstown State

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 20 straight road games to open the 2013 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, but was a comparable 21 a year ago.

The Panthers will travel close to 9,000 miles over the course of the first six weeks of the season via plane or bus, visiting six different states (New Mexico, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois) before playing their home opener March 26 against Cardinal Stritch. To put that in perspective, that equates to circling the bases 130,269 times.

The February 15th opener to the 2013 campaign is 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 seven years.

1. 2006: February 10
2. 1999: February 13
3. 2013: February 15
4. 2007: February 16
5. 2012: February 17

The Milwaukee baseball program has 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 four players in the past two seasons, as Chad Pierce (Milwaukee Brewers; 38th round) was taken in the 2011 MLB Draft.

The Panthers' pitching has been steadily getting better each season and was taken to a new level in 2012. Prior to the 2011 campaign, the school record for ERA was 4.18 and that stood since 2002. In 2011, UWM just got by that mark at 4.16. The new 2012 total of 3.73 shattered the record that lasted for just 12 months. In addition, the .262 opponent average was the third-lowest in team history, just off the program record of .256 set in 2002.

In the history of the Milwaukee baseball program, eight players have recorded over 200 career hits at the NCAA Division I level after Paul Hoenecke accomplished the feat last season. Two players passed that milestone in 2011, as Doug Dekoning and Cole Kraft both finished above the prestigious number. Senior Jonathan Capasso looks to become the ninth 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. Nick Wichser (2004-08): 206
~Capasso: 186 (was at 157 entering 2013)

Chad Pierce and Eric Semmelhack closed out their 2012 professional seasons on a high note, helping the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to their first title since the 1984 campaign. Pierce played a key role in helping them get to the championship series. Down, one game to zero in the first round of the playoffs and facing elimination, Pierce tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout to lead Wisconsin past the Burlington Bees 4-0. They would go on to also claim a victory in game three and take the series. Semmelhack started the campaign in the Brewers Rookie League at Helena, where he made just six starts before being called up to the Timber Rattlers roster. He made nine appearances for the Rattlers - including five starts - going 2-3 with 22 strikeouts in 30.2 innings of work en route to the championship. Pierce finished 7-5 with a 3.47 ERA, with 115 K's in 124.2 innings of work.

Paul Hoenecke turned in one of the best batting averages at any level of minor league baseball, batting .382 for the LA Dodgers Rookie League team in Arizona. In 41 games, he drove in 38 runs and collected 30 extra-base hits while scoring 29 times. He also earned a late-season call-up to the Ogden Raptors in the Pioneer League, collecting a pair of doubles in four at bats. Jordan Guth went 2-2 in 11 games for the Williamsport Crosscutters, starting seven games and striking out 18.

Sophomore Michael Porcaro is back for his second season of putting together the baseball blog, chronicling the exploits of the team in detail once again. This year, he is joined by sophomore Eric King. Find the link to "Diamond Chronicles" off the baseball page or go to:

You can also follow the baseball team on Twitter @UWM_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.

A very busy week at home is next, taking on Wisconsin Lutheran Tuesday, Edgewood College Wednesday, Cardinal Stritch Thursday and Wright State on the weekend, all at Henry Aaron Field.



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