All posts by uwclubbaseball

D1 starts slow, rebounds quickly with series sweep

The D1 team got off to a bit of a slow start, going 1-3 in the exhibition tournament in Madison.

The Badgers started off the season with a convincing 14-0 victory over Columbia (Chicago).

But Wisconsin dropped its next three in the tourney, first losing a close battle to conference foe UW-Milwaukee, 7-6. Senior third baseman Aaron Peterson collected two hits, as did junior first baseman Austin Mullins and sophomore shortstop Justin Gorman.

Then, despite collecting ten hits, Wisconsin fell to Purdue 14-4. Sophomore shortstop Jake Cavaiani paced the offense, going 2-for-3.

In the final game of the tournament, Wisconsin struggled with the bats, falling to Northwestern 3-0.

But Wisconsin took the rough start as a learning experience, working hard in practice over the next week in preparation for a conference series with UW-Whitewater. It paid off for the Badgers, as they swept the Warhawks.

In game 1, Wisconsin collected 11 hits en route to a 10-2 drubbing. Junior left fielder Colton DeMorett and junior second baseman Brian Mariska each had three hits for the Badgers. DeMorett had two doubles and two RBIs and Mariska had three RBIs. Senior Alex Noel and freshman Cameron Porter were both strong on the hill for Wisconsin. Noel picked up the win and struck out six and Porter allowed just one hit in two innings of relief.

In game 2, Wisconsin’s bats stayed hot. The Badgers pounded 11 hits again and defeated UWW 7-2. The Badgers scored three in the fourth, thanks to RBIs from Mariska, Peterson and sophomore shortstop Devon Pence. Mariska kept it going at the plate, going 2-for-4 with another two RBIs.  

Mullins came in the game to relieve senior Mike Hansen and pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, striking out eight.

In the final contest of the series, UW trailed 2-1 for much of the game before scoring four runs in the fourth and adding eight in the ninth to take the series sweep with a 13-2 victory. The Badgers had 12 hits, including sophomore outfielder Chris Curti’s first multi-hit game as a Badger. Sophomore catcher Tyler Safgren had three RBIs. Sophomore Nick Williams dazzled on the mound, striking out nine over eight innings of work.  

With the sweep, the Badgers head into the spring tied atop the conference with an improved Marquette team. Wisconsin hopes to build on its conference success in the fall and take their hot bats all the way into spring.

Important Player Meeting

There will be a new player meetings Sept 14th and 15th in Union South from 8:00-9:00 PM.

If you could not attend either the Rec Sports expo or student org fair please submit your email to receive important updates on the location of the meetings.

REGIONAL DAY 2: Badgers stay alive

The Badgers will play tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. against Illinois. If Wisconsin wins it will have to beat Illinois again to qualify for the World Series. All games will be at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, MI.

DI 7, PURDUE 5 (Game 3 of the weekend)

In an elimination game, the Badgers trailed by three runs in the sixth inning before taking the 5-4 lead on a Jake Cavaiani 2-run single.

Wisconsin scored two more runs in the seventh inning to earn the victory over the Boilermakers.

Nick Newburg started on the mound and earned the victory after pitching six innings. Evan Polce and Austin Mullins finished the game in relief. Mullins earned the six-out save.

ILLINOIS 10, DI 4 (Game 2 of the weekend)

The Illini capitalized on every mistake the Badgers made in the first game on Saturday afternoon.

Bright spots for Wisconsin were Tyler Safgren’s 2-for-2 performance and Hunter Bailey’s four innings of relief allowing no earned runs.

The Badgers will play tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. against Illinois. If Wisconsin wins it will have to beat Illinois again to qualify for the World Series. All games will be at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, MI.

Regional Day 1: DI 11, Purdue 1 (F7)

Sophomore Ed Olson finished the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a 2-RBI double off the wall in right-center field against the No. 7 Boilermakers. Olson also had an RBI-single in the fifth inning.

Alex Noel and John Raff were a strong battery keeping Boilermakers off balance all game. Noel induced two double plays and a lot of weak fly balls.

First baseman Nick Newburg went 2-for-3 with a double and freshman designated hitter Tyler Safgren had a single, scored two runs, and three walks.

Sophomore Austin Mullins came in and retired the side in order to finish the game on the mound for the Badgers.

—–

The Badgers will be in action in again in Battle Creek against Illinois at 3:00 p.m. EST. Regionals is a double-elimination tournament. If Wisconsin loses tomorrow, it will play again at 7:00 p.m. EST. If the Badgers win, they will play on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. EST. All games will be played at C.O. Brown Stadium.

Both teams grab brooms

DI sweeps its second consecutive series. The three victories moved Wisconsin to a 10-3 overall record and helped it maintain its position atop the conference standings with an 8-1 conference record.

UW DI 20, UW-Whitewater 15

Sophomore Nick Newburg continued his hot streak on Friday night at Warner Park driving in five runs. Newburg went 4-for-5 with a double and hit his second homerun of the season.

Freshman Tyler Safgren went 3-for-6 and senior Jalen Knuteson went 3-for-5. Taylor Tomczak went 2-for-6 with a double and Ed Olson drew three walks.

The Badgers used four pitchers in the game, starting with Mike Hansen before turning to Ben Horman and Griffin Lynch in the fourth inning. James Oelke came in to relieve Lynch in the seventh inning and would be credited as the winning pitcher.

UW DI 3, UW-Whitewater 1

Junior Alex Noel gave up four hits, walked three batters, and hit two batters, but only allowed one run. Noel even worked out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh to preserve the Badgers’ victory.

Alex Noel earned the victory in the first game of the doubleheader against UW-Whitewater on Alumni Day at Warner Park.
Alex Noel earned the victory in the first game of the doubleheader against UW-Whitewater on Alumni Day at Warner Park.

The first game of Saturday’s double header was much different than Friday night’s game. The Badgers only had three hits one day after having 17 hits the night before.

A wild pitch in the fifth inning scored the first run for Wisconsin before Aaron Peterson’s two-out single drove in two runs to give the Badgers the lead it would need.

UW DI 8, UW-Whitewater 0

In the final game of the series, freshman Tyler Safgren and Jake Cavaiani each went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Safgren also had a double.

Nick Newburg delivered a complete-game shutout for Wisconsin striking out five Warhawks’ batters.
––––
The Badgers travel to Milwaukee next weekend to play Marquette University in a three-game series. On Saturday the Badgers will play a doubleheader starting at 3:30 p.m. and on Sunday a single game beginning at 12:00 p.m.

For complete team stats, follow this link: http://clubbaseball.org/Teams.aspx?showstats=733&year=

DII COMPLETES SEASON WITH A SWEEP
DII finished its season with a series sweep of UW-Stevens Point. The Badgers compiled an overall record of 14-5 and a conference record of 11-4. They missed the playoffs by one game, as Winona State won the conference with a 12-3 record.

UW DII 7, UWSP 1

Sophomore Alec Nelson turned in another strong performance on the hill, throwing five innings of shutout ball and allowing just one hit. He also struck out four Stevens Point batters.

Wisconsin came out swinging hot bats, scoring four runs in the first two innings.

Sophomore center fielder Chris Trafton and junior left fielder Tony DeBartolo both collected RBI singles in the first.

Senior first baseman Sam Calmes set the tone offensively, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Junior Andrew Wolfe shut the door, pitching the last two innings and giving up one unearned run.

UW DII 2, UWSP 0

The Wisconsin offense cooled off in the second contest Saturday and the Badgers found themselves in a tight pitcher’s duel.

The Badgers scored two quick runs in the bottom of the first on RBI singles by Wolfe and senior outfielder Alex Kueck, who went 3-for-3. But Wisconsin would be held scoreless for the rest of the game as the two starting pitchers battled back and forth.

Sophomore Drew Rust got the ball for his first start of the season and dazzled. He went four innings and gave up just two hits while keeping the Dawgs off the scoreboard.

Sophomore Nick Zacharias then came on in relief and picked up right where Rust left off. He gave up only one hit in two innings of work.

Sophomore Eric Van Wazer then came in for the save in the seventh inning and dominated. He struck out the side, firing a number of fastballs past UWSP hitters to secure the victory for Wisconsin.

UW DII 2, UWSP 0

Sunday proved to be a special day for the Badgers as they honored their five seniors with a hard-fought victory.

Senior Mac Sinclair started the game on the mound, his first start of the season, and was lights out. He earned the win, throwing five and ⅓ innings of shutout baseball. He struck out five and gave up only three hits.

Senior Alex Kueck suffered an ankle injury that kept him from pitching in his final appearance in the Cardinal and White, but came on to pinch-hit in a big spot in the bottom of the fifth.

With the score tied at zero, DeBartolo doubled to start the inning. Junior right fielder Vinson Mulvey then moved him to third with a ground ball. Trafton drew a walk, bringing Kueck up to the plate with the go-ahead run on third. A wild throw on a pick-off attempt allowed DeBartolo to score and Trafton to move to second. Kueck, sprained ankle and all, delivered a ground ball single to left that scored Trafton to put Wisconsin up 2-0.

Senior Jarek Petras came on in the sixth to relieve Sinclair, who exited the game to a standing ovation. Petras came into the game with the bases loaded, but struck out a UWSP batter to get out of the jam.

In the bottom of the sixth, Calmes doubled off the left field wall in his final at bat as a Badger. Senior Jake Poeske then drew a walk in his last plate appearance.

Petras then slammed the door, completing the five-out save. With the tying run on second, he induced a ground ball for the final out, ending the Badgers season on a high note.

End of season notes

Ultimately the Badgers fell short of their goal, but learned a valuable lesson from the season: every game must be treated like a playoff game in order to advance to regionals. This will serve the young Badgers well as they continue their quest for a national title.

UW DII wraps up its season after missing the playoffs by one game for the second straight season. (Photo Dr. Bob Zoeller)
UW DII wraps up its season after missing the playoffs by one game for the second straight season. (Photo Dr. Bob Zoeller)

Wisconsin graduates five seniors who did a tremendous amount of work for the club. Jake Poeske, Sam Calmes, Mac Sinclair, Alex Kueck and Jarek Petras will all be missed for their contributions both on the field and off.

Tony DeBartolo led the team in hitting with a scorching .453 average. He also led the team in RBIs with 18 and home runs with three.

Chris Trafton co-led the team in runs scored with 17, while also hitting .408 and compiling a .491 on base percentage. Junior second baseman Jack Zoeller also scored 17 runs.

Sophomore catcher Bobby Ehrlich led the team in on base percentage with a .512 mark.

Drew Rust and Nick Zacharias each had an astonishing 0.00 ERA in eight innings pitched, mostly out of the bullpen.

Jarek Petras (2.18 ERA) and Alec Nelson (4.05 ERA) each earned three wins.

Wisconsin will return seven starters next year and will set their sights on a playoff run.

DII drops series to NIU

DII suffered a tough series loss at the hands of Northern Illinois University, dropping the first and last games of the series.

NIU 7, UW DII 2

The Badgers took an early lead but could not overcome a big fifth inning from the Huskies.

Sophomore center fielder Chris Trafton scored the first run of the contest for Wisconsin after being hit by a pitch to lead off the second. He then stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.

NIU took the lead in the fourth, scoring two runs on a two-out single. The Huskies then put up three more runs in the fifth to extend their lead to 5-1.

The Badgers responded by stringing together a few hits in the fifth, including an RBI single from junior second baseman Jack Zoeller. Wisconsin loaded the bases but could not push across another run.

NIU tacked on two more in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

UW DII 11, NIU 1

The Badgers came out hot in the second game, pounding out eight hits in the first inning to put up nine runs.

Zoeller had two hits in the first inning, including an RBI double. Seven different Badgers collected hits in the inning. Trafton and senior first baseman Sam Calmes delivered RBI doubles. Junior right fielder Vinson Mulvey had two RBIs in the inning.

No runs were scored again until the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore  Alec Nelson was masterful on the hill, pitching four innings and giving up zero hits. He also struck out six Huskie batters.

Wisconsin won the game in the fifth inning after freshman first baseman Jordan Gerothanas drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to put the Badgers up ten runs. 

NIU 7, UW DII 6

The Badgers fell to the Huskies in a heartbreaker Sunday, allowing four runs in the top of the seventh.

The game was a 0-0 pitchers duel until the Badgers took the lead in their half of the fourth. Wisconsin loaded the bases and scored two runs on ground balls to the shortstop, courtesy of junior outfielder Tony DeBartolo and Trafton.

Junior Andrew Wolfe was stellar on the mound, making just one mistake on the afternoon. With two outs in the top of the sixth, NIU catcher Teele hit a three-run homer to left to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead.

The Badgers responded with force though, putting up a four spot in the bottom of the sixth. Mulvey ripped a single up the middle to start the inning. DeBartolo followed with a double to off the wall to center that scored senior pinch runner Alex Kueck from first.

After loading the bases, freshman outfielder Jacob Budnik took a pitch to his back to score the go-ahead run. Zoeller, who was 4-for-4 on the day, then drove in two runs with a two-out single to left.

Wisconsin’s 6-3 lead would not be enough though. Teele again killed the Badgers, delivering a two-out two-RBI double to give NIU a 7-6 lead.

Wisconsin was unable push across the tying run in the final frame.

The series loss puts the Badgers in a tough spot in the conference, as they will need Bradley to take two from Winona State to advance to the playoffs. Wisconsin will do what they can though, as they take on UW-Steven’s Point at home this weekend. Come out and support Wisconsin in the final home series of the year. They play at 12 and 2 p.m. at Murphy Field in Waunakee and then at 11:30 a.m. at Warner Park on Sunday.

DI sweeps UW-Milwaukee

The Badgers swept the visiting Panthers in their first conference series of the Spring. Since Spring break, DI’s games have been postponed due to living in Wisconsin.

UW DI 17, UW-Milwaukee 7

Freshman Tyler Safgren and junior Aaron Peterson led the Badgers’ offensive attack that defeated the Panthers. Safgren hit 3-for-4 with two doubles and drove in three runs and Peterson went 2-for-3 drawing three walks and scoring four runs.

Sophomore Nick Newburg, who reached base in every plate appearance of the weekend, went 3-for-3 with a double and drew three walks.

Mike Hansen was credited with the victory after allowing four hits and three runs. Austin Mullins and Evan Polce came in to finish the game.

UW DI 10, UW-Milwaukee 0

Junior Alex Noel made quick work of the Panthers only allowing two hits in the five-inning game. Sophomore Colten DeMorett went 4-for-4 with four singles.

Newburg went 2-for-2 with one walk and hit a 2-run home run in the fourth inning.

UW DI 8, UW-Milwaukee 3

Junior Griffin Lynch struck out seven batters and only gave up one hit in four innings on the mound.

Newburg came on in relief for Lynch and pitched three no-hit innings with three strikeouts. At the plate, Newburg drew a walk and was hit by pitch in his other three plate appearances.

DII sweeps Augustana; moves into first place in conference

After suffering a tough series loss against Winona State, the Badgers played their way back into first place in the conference with a series sweep over Augustana.

UW DII 19, Augustana 0

Wisconsin quickly jumped on the Vikings, scoring four runs in the first inning. Freshman shortstop Tyler Behle delivered a two-RBI single that scored junior right fielder Vinson Mulvey and sophomore center fielder Chris Trafton.

Senior Jarek Petras dominated on the hill, only allowing one hit over four innings of work. He took a no-hitter into the fourth. Petras struck out five Viking batters and only walked two.

Sophomore Nick Zacharias finished the game, throwing a scoreless fifth inning and striking out two.

The Badgers put up five runs in the third to extend their lead to 9-0. Freshman second basemen Alexis Quintero, who was 2-for-4 in the game, drove in senior catcher Jake Poeske with a single up the middle.

Wisconsin then put up nine runs in the bottom of the fifth, thanks in part to a hitting clinic put on by the pitchers. Four different pitchers collected base hits in the fifth. Junior Andrew Wolfe went 2-for-2 with two infield singles. Sophomore Eric Van Wazer ripped a double into the gap that scored a run. Freshman Colin Schrof delivered a two-RBI single and sophomore Drew Rust smashed a base hit to left.

UW DII 13, Augustana 1

Wisconsin fell behind early after Trafton lost a fly ball in the sun, allowing Augustana to score a run in the bottom of the first. But Wisconsin responded in a big way, putting up seven runs in the top of the second, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Junior first basemen Mitchell Hunger got the rally started with a one-out walk. Quintero then doubled into the gap, advancing Hunger to third. But the runs didn’t come until there were two outs, starting with a two-RBI single by senior designated hitter Sam Calmes. Trafton then knocked in Calmes with a single of his own. Junior left fielder Tony DeBartolo then muscled up and crushed a home run to left field, putting the Badgers up 5-1. DeBartolo now has three home runs on the campaign and has homered in back-to-back weekends.

Wisconsin wasn’t done though as Poeske and sophomore catcher Bobby Ehrlich drew consecutive walks. Behle then ripped a double into the gap, scoring both Poeske and Ehrlich.

The Badgers tacked on a few more runs later in the game and held Augustana scoreless over the rest of the contest.

Behle paced Wisconsin offensively, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs. He was 4-for-7 during the series.

Sophomore James Oelke earned the win, throwing three innings and allowing just one hit. He struck out six. Rust and senior Alex Kueck each threw two innings and had two strikeouts.

UW DII 7, Augustana 0

Augustana forfeited the third game, due to not having enough players.

 

Overall, it was an impressive series for the Badgers, both offensively and defensively. With the sweep, Wisconsin moved to 10-3 overall and 7-2 in the conference, remaining one game ahead of Winona State. With the series loss to Winona State, the Badgers do not own the tiebreaker in the event that the conference ends in a tie. As a result, every game has become a must-win for Wisconsin.

The Badgers will look to keep rolling this weekend as they take on Northern Illinois at home. They will play at 12 and 2 p.m. on Saturday at Murphy Field in Waunakee and then on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at Warner Park, the home of the Madison Mallards. Wisconsin could use support from students as they continue the push for the playoffs. Come out to the ballpark and cheer on the Badgers this weekend.

 

DII goes 3-2 in Tampa; defeats No. 11 Florida

UW DII 10, University of Florida DII 4

The No. 17 Badgers took down the No. 11 Florida Gators in their first outdoor action of the season.

Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead with a 3-run third inning. Freshman shortstop Tyler Behle drove in freshman designated hitter Joe Fahning and sophomore catcher Bobby Ehrlich with a double into the left-center gap.

Florida clawed back though, plating two runs in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead.

Wisconsin tied the game in the top of the 6th, thanks to a rally-starting walk by Fahning. He then advanced to second on a passed ball and then took third in the same at-bat after the catcher made an errant throw back to the pitcher. Ehrlich worked a 3-2 count and then roped a single up the middle to tie the game.

Junior right fielder Vinson Mulvey then gave the Badgers the lead with a sacrifice fly that scored Ehrlich. Junior left fielder Tony Debartolo knocked in a run with a double and senior third basemen Jake Poeske reached on an error, scoring sophomore Mike Roth. The Badgers took a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth.

They then added three more runs in the top of the seventh, a rally again started by Fahning who doubled down the right field line. Ehrlich drove him in with a single to right.

Senior Alex Kueck shut the door for Wisconsin, throwing 3 and ⅔ innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just three hits and struck out two.

Sophomore Alec Nelson, who started the game, had a strong outing, especially for his first time on the hill in the 2016 season. He struggled with command, allowing six walks, but gave up just two hits in 3 and ⅓ innings of work. He also struck out three batters.

Lafayette College 13, UW DII 3

Wisconsin again captured an early lead, but could not cool the hot Lafayette bats, falling to the Leopards in an unofficial scrimmage game.

Senior catcher Jake Poeske tripled in the bottom of the first to score junior designated hitter Mitch Jensen to give the Badgers a 1-0 advantage.

But Lafayette would respond with 13 runs over the next four innings, compiling 13 hits.

Junior designated hitter Mitchell Hunger drove in Jensen on a sac fly in the bottom of the third to cut the Lafayette lead to 5-2. But the Leopards responded with five runs in the fourth to give them a 10-2 lead, which would prove to be insurmountable.

Junior Andrew Wolfe received the loss, allowing three earned runs on nine hits. He gave up no walks. Junior Hunter Bailey allowed three runs in two innings of relief work.

Jensen picked up an RBI in the third on a ground ball. It was quite the impressive performance for the junior, who is returning after missing an entire year due to a torn ACL. Unfortunately, he did tweak his knee on his RBI groundout, but, he showed signs of a potential strong comeback campaign if he can remain healthy.

UW DII 5, Illinois DII 1
After two high-scoring affairs to start the season, the Badgers found themselves locked in a nail-biting pitcher’s duel with the Fighting Illini.

Illinois got on the board first, scoring a run in the top of the second on an RBI single. Senior Jarek Petras earned the win, working himself out of trouble in several innings. He allowed zero earned runs and gave up just two hits. He walked five batters, but was able to work out of a couple tight jams. He also struck out four batters.
After loading the bases in the third, Petras induced a groundball to junior third baseman Jack Zoeller, who threw home to Poeske for one, who then turned and fired to senior first baseman Sam Calmes for the last out of the inning.

The double play swung momentum in the Badger’s favor, as an error allowed freshman second basemen Alexis Quintero to drive in the tying run with a sac fly.

Then in the bottom of the fourth, after again loading the bases, Petras, struck out two batters in a row, one looking and one swinging to keep the score even at 1.

Junior right fielder Vinson Mulvey then came through in the top of the fifth to give the Badgers the lead. After Calmes singled, Mulvey doubled him in to push Wisconsin up 2-1.

Wisconsin got some much-needed insurance in the top of the seventh, pushing across three runs to capture a 5-1 lead.

Freshman Colin Schrof was excellent in relief of Petras. He allowed just one hit and gave up zero runs. Sophomore Nick Zacharias slammed the door on the victory with a scoreless seventh.

UW DII 5, Kent State 7

Wisconsin unfortunately suffered another letdown in a double-header, falling to Kent State in the second game on Monday. The Badgers held three leads in the game, but could not hold on to them, succumbing to some timely hitting by Kent State.

Wisconsin scored in each of the first four innings and took a 5-4 lead into the fifth. But Kent State put up three runs in their half of the inning and took a decisive 7-5 lead.

Ehrlich went 3-for-5 in the game, driving in a run and scoring another. The team had nine hits but came up short in the end and could not overcome Kent State’s big inning.

The Badgers had the tying run on base in the bottom of the 7th, but could not push the two runs across.

Junior Nick Clement pitched three innings and allowed four runs.

Sophomore Drew Rust was lights out from the bullpen, giving up no hits, no runs and striking out one in two innings of work.

UW DII 12, Marquette (DI) 2

The Badgers came back with a vengeance on Sunday, routing Marquette in five innings thanks to a nine-run second inning.

Wisconsin had seven hits in the second, led by Behle’s two knocks in the same inning. He started the inning with a frozen rope single to left. He then came up later in the frame and crushed a double that scored two-runs. Zoeller also delivered two hits in the inning, a single and an RBI double.

The Badgers collected a whopping 15 hits in the game. Behle went a perfect 3-3 and four other players had multi-hit games. Nine different players had a base knock in the game.

Schrof was deadly on the mound for the Badgers, allowing no runs and just two hits. He struck out three batters. Zacharias also threw an inning of scoreless baseball.

Bailey sent the Badgers home early, taking a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded, making the score 12-2 and putting the mercy rule in effect.

Overall, Wisconsin showed all the signs of a contender in their first weekend outside since October. They proved that they have a prolific offense with the capability of scoring runs in bunches. Pitchers occasionally struggled with control, but ultimately showed their ability to shut teams down. Defensively, Wisconsin made few costly errors and helped the pitchers out with timely double plays and difficult catches. They have all the components for a deep playoff run.

Wisconsin DII takes on Winona State in the first conference series of the Spring this weekend. They will look to avenge last season, when Winona State came to Madison and took two-of-three games from the Badgers to win the conference title.

Preview: DII Expects Excellence

Wisconsin athletics prides itself on being consistently competitive at the highest levels. Club Baseball at UW is no different.

Much like the Division I team, the DII team expects to return to the World Series in Pittsburg, Kansas in May.

The DII team made it to the World Series in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and has qualified for Regionals consistently since the NCBA expanded to two divisions.

That tradition of post-season competition weighs heavily on the minds of the DII team.

“After missing the regional tournament for the first time in four years we will not have a problem finding motivation,” head coach Austin Grimm said.

Grimm’s DII team is one of the most talented that he has had.

“This team may be the best hitting team we have had in DII history on paper.” Grimm said.

“We are still going to rely on small ball and base running to get runners in scoring position like the past but there will be more doubles and homeruns this year than years past.”

Headlining the offensive attack is outfielder and designated hitter Tony DeBartolo. DeBartolo won Player of the Week honors in the Fall after the series against Bradley.

“DeBartolo, (Vinson) Mulvey and (Jake) Poeske are all great hitters and will be the middle of our lineup. Tony DeBartolo has a ton of power and will drive in a lot of runs this year,” Grimm said.

“Mulvey will work the count and is not afraid to hit with two strikes. He will kill you with singles to the opposite field and loves fouling pitches off to irritate the pitcher until he gets his pitch.”

Poeske hopes to rebound in 2016 and make major contributions in the middle of the lineup, as well.

“Poeske has a little bit of everything. He has power to all fields and is a guy who was in a bit of a slump in spring of 2015, but is expected to have an all-conference type of year in 2016,” Grimm said.

“Top to bottom, the lineup is pretty loaded,” sophomore catcher Bobby Ehrlich said. “Right now I’d say you’re looking at (Jacob) Budnik as a potential seven-hitter and he has quite a bit of pop in his bat.”

The depth of the DII team will bode well for them as they have a lot of players that have the ability to succeed.

“Using the DII reenter rule having this kind of depth can be game changing,” Grimm said. “If you need speed we can put in speed to steal a base or if we need more range we can put in one of our best pitchers once he is done on the mound.”

Not only is the DII depth capable, it is motivated as well.

“The players now know the importance of each game after missing the district championship title by one game last year,” said Grimm. “The team has an outside chance to get back to the World Series.”

Some of the more outspoken players on the team have expressed disagreement with Grimm’s statement regarding the World Series.

“I think we have more than an outside chance at getting to the World Series,” said Ehrlich. “I think most of us see that as an expectation with the squad we have this year.”

Offensively, the team can make some waves, but the pitching staff has some work to do to prove itself.

Assistant coach Bill Calawerts is excited about the progress that the DII pitchers have continued to make.

“Alec Nelson is the pitcher I’m really excited about,” said Calawerts. “He arguably has the best ‘stuff’ of any pitcher in the program.

“I’ve heard comparisons to Nuke from Bull Durham. He could be the guy that goes out and walks the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. However, he’s also the same guy that can strike out 3 in a row on 9 straight.”

Perhaps the most important piece to the DII pitching staff is the leadership provided by junior Andrew Wolfe.

“The kid is just a competitor,” Calawerts said. “His ability to locate and set-up hitters with his wide array of pitches that make him successful. We’re looking forward to him taking a leadership role with our pitchers this year.”

“We have set ourselves up for success in the fall just need to keep working. We need to get our pitching locked down because we have solid starters,” Wolfe said.

If the team can find the proper combination, it could make for a phenomenal season.

“Finding the mix to have the best offensive and defensive efficiency will be the biggest question mark,” said Grimm. “This team will be led by its offensive firepower and returning some solid pitching will help us make a championship run.”