Panthers Host Northwestern At Miller Park; Head To Butler
Senior Kyle Spurley is the probable starter Wednesday at Miller Park.

Senior Kyle Spurley is the probable starter Wednesday at Miller Park.

May 8, 2012

 Game 44 | Milwaukee (19-24) vs. Northwestern (16-29*)
*NU plays Tuesday night as well

 Date  May 9 (approx. 4 p.m.)
 Location  Milwaukee, Wis. | Miller Park
 GameTracker  GT link
 Live Video  Horizon League Network

 Games 45-47 | Milwaukee (19-24, 12-11) vs. Butler (21-27, 9-15)
 Date  May 11 (2 pm) | May 12 (12 pm) | May 13 (11 am)
 Location  Indianapolis, Ind. | Bulldog Park
 Live Stats  Stats link
 Live Audio  All 3 games

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team starts the week with a trip to Miller Park, hosting Northwestern University in a single game at the Major League Park Wednesday following the Brewers/Reds game. Then, on the weekend, it's off to Indiana for a three-game set at Butler University. Wednesday's game will start at approximately 4 p.m., based on the duration of the MLB contest. Game one against the Bulldogs is set for a first pitch of 2 p.m. CST.

UWM Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

League play continues its new format this season, with teams playing once per day on the weekend instead of a single game Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday. Game two has a first pitch of 12 p.m. Saturday and the series wraps up Sunday with an 11 a.m. start. Each game will have live stats available and the weekend series will have an audio stream available courtesy of Butler. In addition, Wednesday's contest can be seen on the Horizon League Network with Kevin Conway and Tim Prahl on the call.

The 2012 campaign marks the 48th season of baseball at UWM. It is also the 43rd season of varsity play (the program was played at the club level from 1982-1986) and the 22nd in the Panthers NCAA Division I era.

Northwestern returned 22 letterwinners and eight position starters from last year's team which went 20-29 overall and finished eighth in the Big Ten with a 10-13 conference mark. Head coach Paul Stevens is in his 25th season at the helm and has his team at 16-29 overall but will also play Tuesday. Geoff Rowan leads the team with a .307 average, while Jack Havey (.277) paces the team with five home runs and 27 runs batted in.

The Bulldogs have five starters and 10 pitchers returning from last year's squad, which went 23-27-1 overall and 11-14-1 in league play. This season, they are 21-27 overall (9-15 Horizon) and play a midweek game as well. The offense has been impressive, batting .275 overall and pacing the conference 27 HR and second with 298 runs and 265 runs batted in. Pat Gelwicks is among the league leaders in most categories, batting .352 with 43 runs scored, 58 hits, 35 RBI and a .474 on-base percentage.

Milwaukee trails in the series against Northwestern, going 8-14, but has been on the right side of things for quite a few years. UWM has won four of the past six (including 10-4 in 2011) and five of the last eight overall.

The 57-29-1 ledger in the series against Butler represents the second-most victories against any opponent and fifth-best winning percentage (.661). UWM went 3-2-1 against the Bulldogs in 2011 and took two of three in Milwaukee earlier this year.

Through a marketing agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Panthers have played at Miller Park every season since 2002. UWM posted a record of 13-8 in games at the major league park, including a split with Youngstown State a year ago.

The Panthers went 2-1 in a rain-shortened week, losing the first game of the year that will not be made-up due to rain in Chicago on Sunday. The offense was in full force, batting .340 in the three games. Freshman Luke Meeteer led the way with an impressive .600 (6-for-10) average, adding four walks for a .714 OBP. Senior Phil Striggow continues to swing a hot bat, going 6-for-11 (.545) for the week with four runs scored and seven RBI, adding a pair of home runs. On the mound, the team posted a 4.78 ERA, well above the team average coming in, but Jordan Guth did save both victories.

The UWM offense as a whole was improved in April, batting .312 in the month and scoring 118 runs in 17 games. Heading the list was sophomore Sam Koenig and freshman Michael Porcaro. Koenig was dominant, batting .475 (28-for-59) in 14 games, scoring 13 runs and driving in 12. In fact, all but one of his extra-base hits on the season was recorded in April. Porcaro hit at a .400 clip (18-for-45), scoring nine runs and driving in 10 in the 15 games he appeared.

Sophomore Sam Koenig has had a tale of two seasons so far in 2012. On March 31, his batting average was standing at .149 through the first 22 games with just one extra-base hit and four RBI. In the 17 games since, all he has done is bat an amazing .472 (24-for-72), with 17 runs scored, 11 extra-base hits, 16 runs batted in and a .531 OBP.

Junior Eric Semmelhack pitched about as well as you could for not getting a victory April 31 against UIC. He dominated the Flames all day, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. In fact, he walked just one and allowed two hits in his 8.0 innings, while tying the school record with a career-high 13 strikeouts. Those 13 K's have been recorded four times, most recently by Aaron Sorenson in May of 2006 - which also happened to be the last time a UWM pitcher struck out at least 10 in a game. In addition to the individual record, Milwaukee finished with 15 K's on the day to also equal the team record in a game (set four times, most recently against Cleveland State in April of 2011).

In addition, with the 11 K's he recorded against Youngstown State April 21, he became the first UWM pitcher to record at least two starts with 10 or more strikeouts since Ben Stanczyk in 2004. Of note that day in the strikeout department - junior Cale Tassi had 10 punchouts in the second game of the doubleheader against YSU, marking the first time in school history that the Panthers had both starters in a twinbill record 10 or more.

In the Panthers 9-7 victory April 15 at Wright State, the team hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the third inning with seniors Paul Hoenecke and Phil Striggow and junior Nick Lingvay accounting for the three long balls. The last time the Panthers even had back-to-back home runs was 2006, when Zak Rivera and Ross McCoy accomplished the feat against Chicago State April 12 in the seventh inning. More research is being done, but at this point it appears that the three-consecutive HR's was a program first.

Senior Paul Hoenecke became the eighth player to record more than 200 hits in a career when he singled to center field against Butler April 5.

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. Hoenecke (2009-12): 221 (176 entering 2012)
6. Ross McCoy (2004-07): 220
7. Charlie Reschke (2002-05): 213
8. Nick Wichser (2004-08): 206

The three Milwaukee weekend starters are making a strong case to be the best the Horizon League has to offer. Juniors Eric Semmelhack and Cale Tassi and sophomore Mike Schneider dominate the league leaders at this point in the season. Tassi is second in ERA (2.78), with Semmelhack sixth (3.84) and Schneider eighth (4.20). Tassi leads the league in strikeouts at 59, with Semmelhack second at 58. Schneider is ninth (41) despite missing a start at UIC. Tassi is third in innings (81.0), while Semmelhack is sixth (72.2) and Schneider ninth (60.0). Lastly, Tassi is third in opponent batting average (.237), Semmelhack is fifth (.261) and Schneider is seventh (.264).

After setting the program record for lowest ERA in 2011, the pitching has once again been a strong part of the UWM arsenal this season. In fact, the team ERA of 3.82 is the lowest through 43 games since Scott Doffek took over in 2007. The numbers from previous seasons prove this year's pitchers are on a tremendous pace (through 43 games). 2011: 4.02 ERA, 2010: 5.32, 2009: 6.30, 2008: 6.30, 2007: 5.71.

So far in 2012, the Panthers are second in the Horizon League in ERA with that 3.82 mark, trailing Valparaiso (3.58) by just a small margin. In league-only games, it's also close, with Valpo first at 2.96 and UWM right behind at 2.99.

The Panthers amazing comeback against San Francisco March 1 was one for the record book of head coach Scott Doffek's career at UWM (2007-present). Since he took over the squad, the four-run deficit (had been trailing 5-1 before winning, 6-5, on junior Jonathan Capasso's bases-loaded double) was the largest that the Panthers have ever overcome in the ninth (or final) inning. Previously, the most runs UWM had ever trailed entering its final at bat was two, and it happened on a pair of occasions in 2010 in a span of just eight days. On May 14, UWM trailed Butler, 4-2, in the ninth but won on a two-RBI double by Dan Buchholz and a walkoff single from Ben Long. Just over a week later, Buchholz's three-run home run in the bottom of the 14th inning helped the team eliminate a 7-5 hole and win, 8-7, against Youngstown State on the final pitch of the game.

Looking back further, the four-run hole was actually the largest ever overcome in UWM's NCAA Division I history (since 1991). The only result that comes close was April 13, 2002 against Wright State. That day, UWM trailed, 5-2, in the ninth before winning, 6-5. The five-run outburst against USF in the final at bat was also the second-highest ever - only an eight-run frame against Western Kentucky Feb. 27, 1998, was higher. But in that game, UWM never trailed and was tied, 4-4, heading into its last at bat.

The Panthers went 4-10 in their first 14 non-conference games of the season, but the schedule was anything but forgiving. UWM played two ranked opponents and two others who made it to the NCAA Tournament just last season. When you add up the win-loss records of Milwaukee's first seven opponents (as of start of league play March 16), the total amounted to an impressive .643 winning percentage at 72-40 (East Carolina 11-3; Minnesota 7-8; USF 9-8; SDSU 9-8; Cal Poly 11-5; San Diego 13-4; UALR 12-4).

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

Baseball America lists a trio of Panthers among its top prospects, tabbing junior Jordan Guth and sophomore Sam Koenig in its "Quick Hits" section in addition to giving redshirt freshmen Joshua Uhen the title of the "Horizon League's top pro prospect". It goes on to list Uhen as No. 1 and Koenig No. 2 in its "Top Prospects" section. In addition, the publication predicts a third-place finish for UWM and junior Will Fadness to be among the "Top Newcomers".

The website polled the league coaches for its preview, with Wright State coming in as the team to beat. Senior Paul Hoenecke was named one of the "Best Three Pure Hitters" in addition to being named the "Most Underrated Hitter" in the conference.

The website came out with its Horizon League preview last month and selected junior Jonathan Capasso and sophomore Tell Taylor to its Preseason All-Conference Team.

The Panthers were busy waiting for the snow to melt and Henry Aaron Field to be ready for them to play in Milwaukee. While that happened, they played 21 straight road games to open 2012. That seemed easier compared to other seasons, as the record for longest season-opening road trip was set at 30 games in 2008 and was a comparable 22 a year ago.

The Panthers traveled over 10,000 (10,098) miles over the course of the first six weeks of the season via plane or bus, visiting seven different states (North Carolina, Minnesota, California, Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois) before playing their home opener March 31 against UIC. To put that in perspective, that equates to circling the bases 147,263 times.

Milwaukee was picked fourth in the 2012 Horizon League preseason baseball poll after going 15-10 in league play a season ago, finishing just two games back of regular season champ Wright State. WSU (16-7 in 2011), the regular-season champion and NCAA Tournament participant, recorded five first-place votes and 25 points to lead the way. UIC (also 16-7) received the other first-place vote and was second with 19 points.

Valparaiso (14-10 a year ago) edged UWM by a point, finishing with 16 points. The Panthers were in fourth with 15 points. Rounding out the poll was Butler in fifth (10 points) and Youngstown State (5) in sixth place.

2012 Horizon League Preseason Baseball Poll
1. Wright State (5 first place votes) - 25 points
2. UIC (1 first place vote) - 19
3. Valparaiso - 16
4. Milwaukee - 15
5. Butler - 10
6. Youngstown State - 5

The Panthers have always had a strong offense and last season was no different. However, the impressive story came from the mound a year ago, where the pitching staff had a record-breaking campaign.

First and foremost, the team ERA of 4.16 was the lowest in program history, breaking the mark of 4.18 set in 2002. The strikeout total of 389 broke the school record of 376 established in 1999 and the six shutouts that were thrown in 2011 eclipsed the old mark of five set in 2002. In addition, the .258 opponent average was the second-lowest in team history, just off the program record of .256 set in 2002.

The staff was good all season from starters to the bullpen. In fact, the team went 21-3 when leading after six innings and was 21-1 when leading after eight. The staff ERA in the ninth inning was 1.38 on the season.

As a regular starter his entire UWM career, senior Paul Hoenecke has an opportunity to leave his stamp on the all-time record book. Here is where he stands in top offensive categories in career marks.
GAMES: 1. Doug Dekoning 222
Hoenecke: 200 (157 entering 2012)
AT BATS: 1. Dekoning 793
Hoenecke: 760 (587 entering 2012)
DOUBLES: Jesse Hart 66
Hoenecke: 56 (45 entering 2012)
RUNS BATTED IN: 1. Chad Sadowski 150
Hoenecke: 119 (92 entering 2012)
TOTAL BASES: 1. Darin Haugom 392
Hoenecke: 318 (256 entering 2012)

Doug Dekoning also added his name to another list in the Milwaukee record book in 2011: players to hit .300 or better in all four seasons in a Panther uniform. That list is now two entries long, as only Jesse Hart (.371/.315/.360/.346 from 2005-08) and Dekoning (.305/.338/.300/.362 from 2008-11) have achieved that milestone. Junior Jonathan Capasso (.310 freshman/.313 sophomore) has the potential to be next.

After being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, Chad Pierce spent the summer with the Helena Brewers, the team's rookie affiliate in Montana. He went 2-4 in 15 games, making five starts. In 39.1 innings, Pierce recorded 33 strikeouts. Cole Kraft spent all season in Pomona, New York, with the Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League. He batted .281 in 49 games despite playing through injury. He ended the season hitting safely in 10 of the final 13 games, going 10-for-19 (.526) over the last five contests. He scored 22 runs and had 45 hits (11 for extra bases) and drove in 26.

Senior Greg Blohowiak 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 joined by redshirt freshman Michael Porcaro. 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 all season long on his Twitter account at @sidzills.

The Milwaukee Panthers completed their 20th season of baseball at the NCAA Division I level in 2010. To commemorate the occasion, the program selected a 20-Year Anniversary Team last season, honoring the best players to wear a Milwaukee uniform over the past two decades in a ceremony at Miller Park April 29, 2011.

The infield consisted of Chad Sadowski (1997-2000) at first base, Jesse Hart (2005-08) at second base, Matt Houk (2000-01) at shortstop and Jak Kraus (1992-96) at third base. The three outfielders to secure spots on the team were Eric Goerdt (2000-01), Mike Goetz (2005-06) and Darin Haugom (1997-2001). The catcher was John Vanden Berg (2001-02). Ben Long (2008-10) was the choice at designated hitter and Charlie Reschke (2002-05) the utility player selection.

Two starting pitchers and two relief pitchers were also honored to round out the squad. Quintin Oldenburg (1998-2002) and Ben Stanczyk (2002-04) were selected as starting pitchers and Jed Dolske (2002-06) and Matt Freisleben (1999-2002) were honored as the relievers.

The Panthers close out the season at home, taking on Northern Illinois midweek (Tuesday at 4 p.m.) and Wright State. First game against the Raiders starts at 4 p.m. Thursday.



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