April 26, 2005
THIS WEEK IN PANTHER BASEBALL
Game #36 (April 26)
Rocky Miller Park, Evanston, Ill.
Tue., April 26, 3 p.m. -- UWM at Northwestern
UWM: Robert Michalkiewicz, LHP vs. NU: Andrew Smith, RHP
Gametracker: Live stats for the Panthers vs. Wildcats will be available via Gametracker. To access Gametracker, click on the Schedule/Results tab on the Baseball Page at uwmpanthers.com
Game #37 (April 29)
UIC North Field, Chicago, Ill.
Fri., April 29, 3 p.m.-- UWM at Chicago State
UWM: TBA vs. CSU: TBA
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Riding a three-game winning streak, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team takes a break from its league season, traveling to the Chicago area for a pair of non-league games. On Tuesday (April 26), the Panthers travel to Northwestern for a single game with the Wildcats beginning at 3 p.m. UWM returns to take on Chicago State on Friday for another single game starting at 3 p.m. Milwaukee owns a commanding 29-7 series advantage over CSU, including wins in nine of the last 10 meetings, while winning just 3-of-13 against the Wildcats.
Scouting The Opposition
The Northwestern Wildcats sit at 17-17 on the season, and have gotten there with solid hitting and pitching. While the team hits a combined .294, Wildcats pitchers boast a 4.61 ERA. At the plate, the team has three starters hitting better than .310, led by Pat McMahon's .416 mark. The junior catcher has also slugged four home runs and driven in 18 runs. Anthony Wycklendt, a Glendale, Wis. native, leads the team in both categories with seven home runs and 30 RBIs, while batting .328.
On the mound, Milwaukee expects to face Andrew Smith. Smith is tied for the team lead with nine starts, including a team-best two complete games. The second-year righthander boasts a 1-4 record and 4.56 ERA. The Wildcats also have an ace out of the bullpen in closer Chris Hayes. Another righthander, Hays has appeared in 14 games, posting a 3-0 record, 1.82 ERA and collecting six saves.
The Cougars of Chicago State have struggled this season, bringing a 3-39 record into play this week. CSU has lost 11-straight games after a 3-3 stretch that has accounted for each of the team's wins. As a team, the Cougars are hitting .256 at the plate and sport a team ERA of 11.31. Three starters are batting over .300, led by John Torres, who is hitting .350 with team highs of two home runs and 24 RBIs. Jonathan Sakurai has also shined for Chicago State, hitting .317 and stealing 33 bases already in 2005.
Friday's pitching match up is yet-to-be determined as both the Panthers and Cougars have the week off from league action.
Last Time Out
Last Wednesday, junior Zak Rivera collected three of the Panthers' eight hits on the day as the UWM dropped both ends of a doubleheader at No. 28 Creighton in Omaha, Neb. UWM (14-17) dropped a close 3-2 game in the opener, while the Bluejays (30-8) won 9-1 in game two.
Over the weekend, Milwaukee took three-of-four from Cleveland State in a league series at Henry Aaron Field. After a series of schedule changes, the Panthers fell in game one on Friday, 13-5, before getting back in the win column with a 4-3 victory on Saturday. In a rare Sunday doubleheader, UWM scored nine unanswered runs in a 9-1 game one win and held off the Vikings in game two, 10-9. Junior Mike Goetz tied a school record with two triples in game one, while junior Rick Cavaiani hurled a five-hit complete game.
Horizon League Honors
Junior Rick Cavaiani became the latest Panther honored by the Horizon League this season when he was named League Pitcher of the Week on Monday. The righty threw a five-hit complete-game win against Cleveland State on Sunday and provided 2.2 innings of relief at No. 28 Creighton on Wednesday. For the week, he was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and five strikeouts, while allowing just nine hits and three unearned runs. Cavaiani joins junior Aaron Sorenson in earning pitcher of the week honors, as Sorenson has earned the honor twice (March 7 & 28). UWM also had back-to-back League Players of the Week in juniors Joe Nowicki (April 11) and Zak Rivera (April 18).
Around The Horizon League
Inclement weather throughout the region brought action in the Horizon League to a screeching halt last weekend, with the UWM/Cleveland State series as the lone league contests of the week. With the Panthers' 3-1 weekend they hold strong in third place, behind idle Wright State (7-1, .875) and Youngstown State (3-1, .750), with an 8-4 (.667) record. The only other league team to compete since last Wednesday was UIC, which split a doubleheader with IPFW on Sunday. The Flames sit fourth behind UWM at 3-5 (.375), while Butler is in fifth place at 1-3 (.250) and CSU, the only other team to play 12 league games, is last at 2-10 (.165). This weekend sees UIC at Butler and YSU at WSU in league series'.
Six For Sorenson
With a win on Saturday against Cleveland State, junior Aaron Sorenson has now won his last six starts and now stands at 7-2 on the season. In those six starts, he has done much of the work on his own, pitching 46.1 of the 50 possible innings, striking out 44 and walking 10. Saturday was his shortest stint of the streak at 6.1 innings, while the only other start to go less than eight innings was a seven-inning complete game against Illinois. Sorenson has emerged as staff ace, starting a team-high nine games, never throwing less than five innings in a start, and getting the decision each time. He leads the league in wins (7) and strikeouts (61), while being named the League Pitcher of the Week twice (March 7 and 28).
Okay, Maybe Some Help
To say Sorenson has won his last starts on his own may be a bit of an overstatement. The Panther offense and junior reliever Jed Dolske have had their hand in the junior righthander's success. At the plate, UWM is hitting .321 over his last six starts, while averaging over seven runs per game. Sorenson has completed two of the six games, while Dolske has finished the other four, saving three.
Welcome To The Horizon League
Milwaukee hitters certainly have enjoyed the return to league play, batting .320 and scoring over six and a half runs per game on their way to an 8-4 record. Freshman Grant Berkovitz leads the way with a gaudy .481 batting average in league play, while junior Joe Nowicki joins him over .400 at .417. Fellow juniors Zak Rivera (.395) and Mike Goetz (.391) are also checking in below the .400 mark. Goetz has already scored 15 times in league play, while Nowicki has struck for three home runs and 13 RBI in 11 games. On the mound, Aaron Sorenson has won all three of his starts and struck out 24 compared to five walks. Junior Korey Keller has two wins and a K/BB ratio of 20/5, while Jed Dolske has saved four of the Panthers' eight victories.
Taking The Extra Base
UWM belted out 27 hits and scored 19 runs in its doubleheader sweep of Cleveland State on Sunday. Of those 27 hits, 14 went for extra bases, including eight in game one. Junior Mike Goetz led the way, hitting a school-record two triples in game one then a double and home run in game two. Senior Charlie Reschke and junior Zak Rivera each tallied three doubles on the day, while junior Joe Nowicki and sophomore Rob Brockel each homered for Milwaukee.
Since the calendar turned to April, junior outfielder Joe Nowicki has been hitting at a torrid pace. The Milwaukee native is hitting .467 in 18 games this month with six home runs and 23 RBIs. He has also stroked six doubles and scored 19 runs to help the Panthers to a 13-7 record in the month. April 6 he had a career day, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs in both ends of UWM's doubleheader at IPFW. He also hit a home run in game one, and went deep twice in game two with a double. Nowicki was subsequently named the Horizon League Player of the Week April 11. This season, he is hitting .368, slugging .678, reaching base at a .418 clip, and has collectied seven home runs, 25 RBIs, 22 runs scored. His seven home runs are tied for the league lead.
Leading The Way
Mike Goetz has emerged as one of the top lead-off men in the Horizon League. The junior centerfielder ranks among the top five in the league in batting average (.372), runs (30), hits (45), triples (2) and stolen bases (9). At the top of the Panthers order, Goetz has reached base to lead off a game 14 times this season and reaching base safely in 28-of-33 games in which he has batted. He has also posted 14 multi-hit games and walked 10 times, compared to just 11 strikeouts, leading to a .424 on base percentage. His speed has also led to a team-high nine stolen bases and seven bunt base hits. On Sunday, Goetz tied a school record with two triples in one game, and capped his day with his first home run of the season in game two.
Junior reliever Jed Dolske picked up two more saves last weekend, bringing his league-leading total to eight on the year. The Panthers' side-arm hurler has been automatic this season, converting all eight save opportunities, including four in a five-game span (April 6-9). His 2005 total is the fourth-best single-season in school history, while moving him to third on the school's career save list. Through three seasons at UWM, two as the team's closer, Dolske has 14 saves, six away from Jon Schreiner's school standard of 20.
Zak On The Attak
One of the hottest Panthers at the plate as of late has been junior Zak Rivera. Since April 6, the lefty has batted .417 with eight doubles, four home runs, 16 runs scored and 11 more driven in. He also ran a hitting streak to nine games, collecting hits in 13-of-15 games and reaching base in 14 of those games courtesy of 10 walks. His recent pace at the plate has boosted him to third on the team with a .364 batting average, four home runs and 17 RBIs. Rivera leads the team with 11 doubles, 16 walks and a .474 on base percentage, while slugging .662, which ranks second. The league has noticed his hot streak, naming him the League Player of the Week April 18.
A pair of Panther hurlers have done their best to rebound after UWM's offense-laden trip to IPFW on April 6. Since getting in the middle of the UWM/IPFW 26-11 slugfest, sophomore Rob Brockel has been a key contributor for Milwaukee in recent outings. He has thrown 10.2 innings over his last five appearances, allowing just eight hits, five runs and striking out six. Worked in there was a seven-inning scoreless streak that spanned five appearances. After allowing seven runs in one inning of work in the same IPFW game, sophomore Mike Rauwerdink bounced back to throw nine effective innings his next two Wednesday starts against Valparaiso and Creighton. He surrenedered one run in three innings against Valpo and had a "quality start" at Creighton, allowing three runs in six solid innings.
Home Away From Home
The Panthers have returned to Miller Park for the fourth-straight season in 2005, and have continued to enjoy success at the domed park since their first games in 2002. UWM is now 6-1 all-time at the Major League facility after a 12-4 win over Valparaiso last Wednesday. In 2004, Milwaukee saw a four-game win streak come to an end with a 4-3 loss in game one of its doubleheader with Detroit, before getting back in the win column, 2-1, in game two. Valparaiso became the first opponent to make a repeat visit, being swept in in a doubleheader in 2003 (8-4, 6-0). The Panthers have one more game in 2005 scheduled for Miller Park, having moved their series finale with Wright State May 8th. That game follows the Milwaukee Brewers vs. New York Mets at 12:05 p.m.
The Big 3-0-0
With UWM's 10-6 win over Butler on April 10, head coach Jerry Augustine won his 300th game as the mentor of the Panther Baseball program. He also became the first UWM coach, in any sport, to win 300 games at the Division I level. In his 11th season at Milwaukee, Augustine has led the Panthers to a 307-255-1 (.546) record, winning 53 more games than any other league school in that time.
Milwaukee has scored 34 times after the seventh inning this season, leading to a handful late-inning comebacks this season. While UWM came up short in a four-run rally in the ninth on Sunday, it has had a number of successful comebacks, most recently April 8 against Butler. Trailing 6-5, the Panthers rallied for two runs in the eighth for the 7-6 win. More late-inning rallies for UWM include:
March 19 against Rhode Island, the Panthers fell behind 5-2 in the sixth inning, but responded with 10 unanswered runs, including three in the seventh to tie the game and seven more runs in the eighth, before holding on for a 12-9 win.
Two days later against Cornell, Milwaukee battled back to tie the game after entering the top half of the ninth trailing 7-1. The Panthers scored six runs in their final at-bat, but the Big Red tallied an unearned run in the bottom half of the frame for the 8-7 win.
In UWM's first meeting with Valpo Feb. 27, Milwaukee picked up the extra-inning victory with two eighth-inning runs to send the game into extra innings. The Panthers added another late-inning run to win the game in the 10th.
In April 6's doubleheader at IPFW, offense was not in short supply. Milwaukee won the first game in a 26-21 slugfest, before rebounding from an 8-3 deficit for a "tame" 10-8 victory. The first game featured a school-record nine Panther home runs, including two by both senior Brooks Graff and sophomore Nick Wichser. The 47 combined runs also set a school mark, topping the 22-17 win by UWM over Northern Iowa in 1992. Joe Nowicki, who homered in the first game, went deep twice in game two, giving Milwaukee three players with multiple homers and 12 total home runs for the day. Lastly, with 35 hits over the course of the twinbill, the team's batting average jumped from .250 to .271.
A pair of Panthers were honored following the team's season-opening performance at the Austin Peay Baseball Classic, Feb. 25-27, in Tennessee. Junior Jeremy Wilson and sophomore Matt Curran were each named to the APBC All-Tournament Team. Wilson, a transfer from Austin Peay, hit a pair of home runs and led the team with four RBIs, while Curran batted .444 (4-for-9) with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored on the weekend.
Reschke Makes Run At History
Senior Charlie Reschke entered his senior campaign looking to become the first Panther in school history to bat over .300 in each of his four seasons in a UWM uniform. A career .313 hitter, Reschke has been swinging the bat well lately in working his average this season up to .277. This comes on the heels of a career-best .340 mark last season, a .306 average as a sophomore and .312 percentage as a freshman. The most experienced player on the squad, he became just the third player in school history to log 600 at-bats last weekend and currently ranks third all-time with 188 hits and fourth with 41 doubles. The left-handed slugger also has a career .472 slugging percentage to go with 16 home runs and 109 RBIs.
Solid Summer Jobs
For a group of UWM baseball players, this past summer proved to be a valuable and rewarding one. Senior Charlie Reschke, junior Rick Cavaiani, and junior Mike Goetz all excelled in the highly-competitive Northwoods League last summer. Reschke was named to the all-star team for the second consecutive season after batting .275 while placing second on the squad with 10 doubles, two home runs to go with 27 runs and 21 RBI for the LaCrosse Loggers. Cavaiani, a transfer from Madison Area Technical College, was named to the all-star team after he tied a league record with 19 saves to go with a 1-1 record and miniscule 0.57 ERA. Cavaiani struck out 34 batters in just 31.1 innings of work while holding opponents to a .184 batting average. Goetz teamed with Cavaiani for the Wisconsin Woodchucks and excelled in the leadoff role. He led the team with 27 walks which led to a solid .371 on base percentage. Goetz scored 19 runs on the year to go with 11 stolen bases.
Panthers Picked For Second
It appears as if the rest of the Horizon League coaches understand that last season was much more an exception than the rule when it comes to UWM baseball. The Panthers were picked second in the 2005 Horizon League preseason poll after finishing a disappointing fifth last season. UIC, the two-time defending league champion, was picked for first with Youngstown State tabbed for third. The Bulldogs of Butler were picked fourth, followed by Cleveland State and Wright State. Milwaukee was also tabbed for second in the preseason by the publication Baseball America.
Milwaukee remains out of the league for one more date, traveling to Iowa City, Iowa, for a doubleheader with Iowa May 4. The Panthers return to the Horizon League with a four-game home series against Wright State next weekend (May 6-8). UWM and WSU kick off the series on Friday at Henry Aaron Field and wrap up the series on Sunday at Miller Park.