Panthers Back At Home To Face Chicago State And WLC
Junior Gunnar Eastman

Junior Gunnar Eastman

May 6, 2014

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team is back at home for midweek action before heading out on the final road trip of the regular season on the weekend. The Panthers will host Chicago State for a doubleheader Tuesday and Wisconsin Lutheran for a single game Wednesday. Then, it's off to Michigan for a three-game set against Oakland University.

UWM Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Last Meeting
Milwaukee12
Chicago State8
April 1, 2014
Chicago, Ill.
Seventh-Inning Rally Sends Milwaukee Past Chicago State, 12-8
Mike Porcaro's bases-loaded double and Pat Wilson's two-run home run highlighted a six-run inning as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team came from behind on two different occasions in a 12-8 victory Tuesday afternoon at Cougar Stadium.

The Last Meeting
Wisconsin Lutheran1
Milwaukee15
May 6, 2013
Henry Aaron Field
Panthers Get Back On Track Against Wisconsin Lutheran
Freshman Jake Tuttle pitched six strong innings and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team scored seven runs over the first two innings to jumpstart a 15-1 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran College Monday afternoon at Henry Aaron Field.

The Last Meeting
Oakland*2
Milwaukee8
April 6, 2014
Henry Aaron Field
Milwaukee Makes It 19 In A Row At Home With Sweep
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team opened up a close game with a four-run seventh inning in claiming an 8-2 victory over Oakland University Sunday at Henry Aaron Field.

All six games will have live statistics available. Start times for the week are 3 p.m. back at the Hank against both the Cougars and Warriors. The weekend will have first pitches of 2 p.m. CST (Friday), 12 p.m. CST (Saturday) and 11 a.m. CST (Sunday) against the Grizzlies.

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.

SERIES HISTORY
Milwaukee is 41-11 in the all-time series against Chicago State, with the .788 winning percentage marking the highest against any opponent that UWM has played at least 10 times. The two teams met last season (a 4-3 UWM win) for the first time since 2009. The Panthers have won 10 of the past 11 meetings dating back to the 2007 campaign, including a 12-8 decision about a month ago.

UWM is a perfect 12-0 against Wisconsin Lutheran, with the two teams squaring off regularly - Wednesday will mark the sixth year in a row.

Milwaukee and Oakland had never met on the baseball diamond prior to this season. Panthers swept the Grizzlies the first weekend of April, including a pair of games in which they overcame one-run deficits in the ninth inning to claim back-to-back walk-off wins.

LAST WEEK
The Panthers lost games due to the weather at Iowa and home against Cardinal Stritch before losing three games on the road at UIC. The offense did bat .294 as a team, led by seniors Pat Wilson (.462, 6-for-13) and Ryan Solberg (.400, 4-for-10). The pitching staff was rough up, however, posting a 7.88 ERA in the series.

THAT WAS FAST
The series opener against UIC May 2 was the definition of an efficient game. Both starting pitchers went the distance, walking one and striking out seven. Neither team made any lineup substitutions either, resulting in a game time of just one hour, 39 minutes. That marked the fastest 9-inning game ever played since Scott Doffek became the UWM head coach in 2006. Just seven other 9-inning affairs in that span have been played in under two hours, with the previous best mark of 1:49 set in a 3-0 win over Youngstown State back on April 15, 2007.

SOLBERG AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Ryan Solberg is enjoying quite a successful senior season and is now among the Horizon League leaders in numerous categories. He tops the conference with 18 stolen bases (and has done it on a perfect 18 attempts). He is second in slugging percentage (.545), second with five home runs, third in average (.358), fourth with 30 runs batted in and currently fifth in on-base percentage (.433). The stolen bases are a new added dimension for Solberg, who was 9-for-11 in steals in his first three seasons combined at UWM.

WOW THAT WAS CLOSE
Junior Cody Peterson came within five outs of program history against Valparaiso April 18, carrying a no-hitter into the top of the eighth before a one-out infield single spoiled the bid. He finished with a one-hit shutout, walking one and striking out eight batters to help him earn the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week award. It was just the fifth one-hitter thrown by a UWM pitcher since the start of the 2000 season and the first that did not occur in a scheduled seven-inning contest.

April 29, 2011, 8-0 over Youngstown State: Chad Pierce (7 innings)
April 12, 2011, 11-0 over St. Norbert: four pitchers combined (7 innings)
May 1, 2007, 9-1 over Carroll College: four pitchers combined (7 innings)
April 5, 2003, 6-0 over Valparaiso: Mikel Schaefer (7 innings)

SIT THEM DOWN
Redshirt freshman Justin Langley made a strong statement against Valparaiso April 19, pitching 7.0 strong innings to help UWM to the shutout win. In his outing, he struck out 12 batters, coming up just short of the Milwaukee school record of 13 in a game. In the process, he became the first freshman to record 10-or-more K's in a game since Robert Michalkiewicz had 10 in 2004.

ABOUT THOSE SHUTOUTS
The Panthers recorded back-to-back shutouts against Valparaiso April 18 & 19, 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 March 22-23 of 2013 when they defeated UIC by scores of 4-0 and 10-0. In fact, it's only been accomplished three other times prior to that: a doubleheader against Wisconsin Lutheran April 5, 2000 (19-0 and 17-0), a twinbill 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).

TEAM STREAK
The Panthers went a perfect 13-0 at home last season and, dating back to 2012, had extended their winning streak on their home field to 16 in a row. That total was the top current home-winning streak in the nation at the NCAA Division I level when the season started. The streak was extended to 20 in 2014, just one win away from the school record of 21 wins in a row at home set in 2010 (The 20 also marks the longest home streak in the NCAA in 2014).

The perfect mark at home last season was the first in program history. The 2009 team (14-1, .933 winning percentage) and 2001 squad (12-1, .923) had come the closest. The longest winning streak at home is 21, which started in 2009 and ended in 2010. UWM is now 71-19 at "the Hank" the past five seasons, an impressive .789 winning percentage.

EVEN MORE WALK-OFF FUN
The Panthers made things interesting against Oakland University April 5, posting a pair of come-from-behind ninth-inning victories in walkoff fashion and both by the same 4-3 scoreline. In both games, they trailed 3-2 and a leadoff single started the rally, with a failed pickoff attempt advancing the runner both times. Eventually, junior Sam Hammer won the opener with a walkoff single to right. Game two ended when senior Pat Wilson drove one into right field that the OU first baseman could not handle, setting off a second-straight walkoff celebration on the infield.

Milwaukee also claimed a 10-8 victory over UIC March 30 on senior Ryan Solberg's two-run home run, which helped Solberg on his way to Horizon League Batter of the Week honors after hitting .357 (5-for-14) with three home runs and eight runs batted in during the 2-2 week. That walk-off hit was the first for UWM since Will Fadness bases-loaded single ended the game against Northern Illinois May 14 of last season. It was also the first home run to end a game for UWM since Dan Buchholz hit a three-run HR in the bottom of the 14th inning to defeat Youngstown State in May of 2010.

THICKE TIME
Senior Tyler Thicke picked up the rare distinction of earning not one, but two victories, on the same day. He was the UWM pitcher on the mound to close out the top of the ninth inning in both games against Oakland April 5, picking up the win in each walkoff.

MOTHER NATURE HAS NOT BEEN KIND
It's always a battle getting ready to play baseball in the Midwest, but the 2014 season will go down as one of the toughest in program history. To date, the Panthers have already lost series at Kansas State (3 games), at UIC (3), at Valparaiso (3), at Youngstown State (3), at Northwestern (1) and at Iowa (1) for a total of 14 games cancelled due to the weather or field conditions. The team has also had to move four of its home games to different locations and had three other contests postponed when opponents had to reschedule due to playing their own conference makeups.

GHELFI ADDED TO BENCH WATCH LIST
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.

BASEBALL SEASON ALREADY?
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

PRESEASON NATIONAL RECOGNITION
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.

NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP HERE
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.

HE WILL HAVE BACK-UP
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.

HOW'S THAT FOR A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
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.

PRESEASON POLL
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

NOTES ON THE MLB DRAFT
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.

ARMS RACE
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.

PLAYER BLOG
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.

SOCIAL MEDIA
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.

ON TAP
The Panthers are home the final week of the regular season, hosting Northern Illinois for a doubleheader Tuesday before welcoming Wright State for the final series of the campaign. Thursday's opener will be at Miller Park.

 

 

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