By Chris Lindeke
Assistant Athletic Director, Strategic Communications and Branding
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
The No. 3 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater baseball team secured a share of the program’s fourth straight Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship and 20th in program history Saturday with back-to-back, run-rule wins over UW-Eau Claire at Prucha Field at James B. Miller Stadium.
The Warhawks (33-5 overall, 24-4 WIAC), who have earned the No. 2 seed in next week’s WIAC Championship, defeated the Blugolds 12-2 in seven innings in the opener before posting a 14-4 victory in Game 2 in eight innings.
Between games, UW-Whitewater recognized seniors Nick Santoro, Connor Spear, Jason Abatto, Taylor White, Connor Moroder, Ben Wilkins, Tucker Criswell, Jim Jarecki, Matt O’Sullivan and Director of Baseball Operations Ryan Hogan, who all graduated from the institution Saturday.
The Warhawks scored in all six of their at-bats during the first game, including a five-run third inning that included a three-run homer by left fielder Matt Korman.
First baseman Donovan Brandl finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while right fielder Jacob DeMeyer collected two hits, one walk, one run scored and two runs batted in. Korman plated four runs.
Criswell and Santoro tallied two hits and one run scored apiece. White homered and posted two hits, one walk, two runs scored and one RBI. Catcher Ryan Norton reached base twice with one hit and one walk and scored two runs, and second baseman Sam Vomhof registered one hit, one walk, one run scored and one RBI.
Starting pitcher Connor Spear struck out five batters over six innings of work to improve to 5-0 on the year. Ben Muscatello tossed a perfect seventh in relief.
In the nightcap, the two teams combined to leave 20 runners on base.
UW-Whitewater scored three in the bottom of the first to take an early advantage thanks to a two-run triple by White and an RBI infield single by Korman, but the Blugolds (5-33, 5-23) drew to within one after plating a pair in the top of the third.
Vomhof and Criswell hit back-to-back triples to open the third, with Criswell coming around to score on a passed ball. In the fourth, DeMeyer smashed a two-run double to left and White added a run-scoring single to right.
UW-Eau Claire threatened again in the sixth with two runs in and the bases loaded, but reliever Max Huseboe pitched out of the jam as UW-W held a 9-4 lead.
In the sixth, first baseman Ben Wilkins knocked a two-run double to left center, and Norton plated Wilkins on a squeeze bunt to make it 12-4.
The Warhawks tallied once in the seventh on a Criswell sacrifice fly, and pinch hitter Connor Moroder ended the game in the eighth by run rule on a single to deep right with the bases loaded.
Brandl (6-1) pitched five innings, scattering five hits and allowing two runs with a pair of strikeouts. Huseboe pitched the sixth, and Kade Lancour added two scoreless frames in relief.
UW-Whitewater concludes the regular season Sunday with a non-conference game at UW-Oshkosh. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.