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.”

D1 Preview

A year removed from a trip to the Regional tournament, the D1 Wisconsin Club Baseball team has rebuilt itself into a contender poised to make some noise in the playoffs.

“I fully expect a conference championship and a Regional berth. I personally don’t think this team should be happy with anything less than a World Series run,” said head coach Jeff Block. “The talent is there but we need to continue to put in the work.”

The Badgers graduated five seniors who all played a key role on last year’s team. Rory Menzer, Parker Sear, Sean Blythe and Chris Hase were all starters on last year’s club. They also lost starting pitcher Logan August.

However they have a strong returning rotation. Sophomore Nick Newburg, who finished fifth in the nation in ERA last year with a stellar 0.88 mark, will be back on the bump.

Sophomore Austin Mullins, who was named to the Great Lakes All-Region Second Team as a relief pitcher, returns as well. Junior Griffin Lynch, who has been one of the team’s top starters the past two seasons, will also hurl for the Badgers this spring.

Additionally, Wisconsin has reloaded on the hill, adding junior Mike Hansen, a junior-college transfer and junior Alex Noel, a transfer from Division 1 South Dakota State. Both will compete for starting spots in the rotation according to Block.

“The addition of Hansen and Noel is going to be huge for our pitching staff and I think both of them can contribute at a high level right away,” Newburg said.

Sophomores Evan Polce and Ben Horman could also figure in the starting rotation. Both are hard-throwing right-handers who have shown devastating stuff. The Badgers pitching staff will be deep this spring, an asset that is needed if they want to bring home the hardware.

“I think it is very important that our middle relievers, who might not see a ton of work during the regular season, realize their importance come playoff time when we have the possibility of playing five 9-inning games in the matter of three days,” Block said. “It’s usually those guys that make the difference between a trip to the Regionals and a trip to the World Series.”

Offensively, the Badgers lost several big bats and will need a new core to step up at the plate. Freshman Tyler Safgren, who hails from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, could be one of those guys. A powerful right-handed hitter who catches and plays first, Safgren said he hopes to be a “consistent player the team can rely on” this season.

Junior Aaron Peterson, another powerful right-handed bat, should also help to fill the holes left by the three and four hitters who graduated. Peterson, who plays third, has high expectations for the 2016 campaign.

“I think we have a group of guys that is largely intact from last year and gained a lot of experience,” Peterson said. “Everyone knows what it takes to win now.”

Sophomore third basemen Colten DeMorett, a transfer student who played baseball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, should help the Badgers offensively as well. He earned three hits in the series against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the fall, where the Badgers took two out of three games.

Newburg also believes that sophomore outfielder Ed Olson will improve on his performance from last year and play an important role in the middle of the lineup. Sophomore second basemen Brian Mariska was named to the Great Lakes All-Region Second Team and will look to build on his strong 2015 campaign.

Despite the talent in the lineup, the Badgers will have to be more consistent at the plate, according to Newburg.

“A lot of the games we lost [last year] were one-run games where one hit here or there would’ve won us the game,” Newburg said.

Block also recognizes the inconsistency as an issue for Wisconsin, but said this can be made up with the brand of small ball that the Badgers work hard on perfecting all off-season.

“This fall showed us that we could put up some serious numbers, but also that we weren’t immune to going cold like we did in the Eau Claire series,” Block said. “If the team buys into that [small ball] philosophy and executes when it counts, then this team should be above average offensively.”

Wisconsin kicks off their season in just four short weeks in sunny Tampa, Florida. Immediately following the week of Spring Training, the Badgers will begin the regular season in pursuit of a conference championship.

“If we all can play up to our abilities each weekend, it will be a fun season,” Peterson said.

DI wins series on walk off in the 11th; DII rained out.

UW-Eau Claire 6, UW DI 3

Three errors for the host Badgers put them behind the eight-ball in their loss to the Blugolds.

Wisconsin was able to rally to load the bases with two-outs in the sixth inning when senior Jalen Knuteson drove in the Badgers final two runs of the game, but the bats were otherwise limited throughout the ball game.

UW DI 7, UW-Eau Claire 0

The Blugolds had no answer for the Badgers’ strong pitching performance from Mike Hansen. Eau Claire only mustered two hits against Hansen who got the complete game shut out.

Offensively, Wisconsin was led by Colten DeMorett’s 2-for-4 day at the plate. The sophomore also scored two runs in the game.

UW DI 3, UW-Eau Claire 2 (F11)

The Badgers got valuable contributions from the 6-7-8 spots in the lineup on throughout Sunday’s rubber match of the series with the Blugolds. Brian Mariska’s single down the left field line plated Taylor Tomczak to win the game in eleven innings.

On the mound for Wisconsin, junior Griffin Lynch worked around two errors by striking out 11 batters and walking just one batter. Alex Noel got the win for the Badgers following four innings of hitless relief.

Wisconsin will enter the off-season a half game out of first place in the conference at 2-1.

DII was rained out. Its series with Augustana will be made up following Spring Break.

 

Both teams playing this weekend

DI will be in action against UW-EC on Friday night at 7:00 PM at Ahuska Park. Saturday at Mansfield Park off of S. Gammon Rd, DI will host a doubleheader starting at 11:00 AM.

DII will travel to Rock Island to play a conference series against Augustana this weekend.

 

DII Sweeps Bradley

UW DII 8, Bradley 6

The Badgers fell behind in the first inning, but had more consistent offense than Bradley could handle on Saturday night at Ahuska Park in Monona.

Bradley was able to get the potential tying run to the plate after a single in the seventh made the score 8-6. Alex Kueck came in to get the final out and close the door and record the save.

UW DII 12, Bradley 2

For whatever reason the Badgers struggled to muster much offense early against Bradley in Sunday morning’s double header falling behind in the first inning for the second consecutive game. Wisconsin would take the lead with a three-run fourth inning and never look back.

The three-run fourth inning was highlighted by freshman Joe Fahning’s 2 RBI single. Fahning would come around to eventually score the winning run.

In the fifth inning, Tony DeBartolo delivered a bases clearing double to contribute three of the five runs scored in the inning. The Badgers then  were able to walk of Bradley in the sixth inning by scoring four more runs to activate the ten-run rule.

Alec Nelson and Hunter Bailey combined to only allow one hit.

UW DII 17, Bradley 6

Once again, the Badgers fell behind in the first inning. Once again, Wisconsin clawed its way back and won via the ten-run rule.

Sophomore Tony DeBartolo smoked a 3-run home run to give the Badgers a 7-6 lead in the second inning that they would not give up.

Every starter would score at least one run for the Badgers and Nick Clement and McCormick Sinclair provided three innings of shut out baseball from the bullpen.

DII will travel to Rock Island to play a conference series against Augustana this weekend.

DI will be in action against UW-EC on Friday night at 7:00 PM at Ahuska Park. Saturday at Mansfield Park off of S. Gammon Rd, DI will host a doubleheader starting at 11:00 AM.

Having a significant amount of fans at our Fall Tournament as well as the DII series last weekend is something that we truly appreciated. The more the merrier.

Our goal in the Fall and Spring is to average at least 32 fans per game. Something that may seem small, but for a Club organization it’s worth paying attention to.

On Wisconsin!

Tournament Results

The Club Baseball program split itself into three teams and hosted three other teams to participate in its annual round robin tournament. The Badgers three teams went 5-1 against UW – Milwaukee, UW – Whitewater, and Marquette.

UW-Whitewater (Club) 6, University of Wisconsin – DI 4

In the first competition of the fall, DI’s rust showed and it was defeated by the Warhawks after giving up four runs in the first two innings. The Badgers had several hard hit balls that did not result in enough runs scored.

University of Wisconsin – DII 4, Marquette 1 

The DII team also suffered from a slow start, but was able to break through against the Golden Eagles in the fifth inning when senior Sam Calmes scoredto tie the game 1-1 on an Alex Kueck RBI single. The Badgers scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth before Kueck entered the game in the seventh and recorded the save.

UW – DII 3, UW-Whitewater (Club) 2

After the Warhawks left-handed pitcher decided to go into the wind up in the bottom of the seventh inning, junior Jeremy Dixon had a feeling that he had been neglected. The next pitch the pitcher wound up again and Dixon took advantage stealing home and with it, the victory.

James Oelke gave up the only Whitewater runs in the first inning. Oelke followed that with three scoreless innings before handing the ball to Hunter Bailey and Drew Rust who also kept the Warhawks from scoring.

UW – DI 12, UW-Milwaukee (Club) 0

Freshman starting pitcher Mike Hansen lost his no-hitter for DI in the fifth and final inning when he gave up a double. The freshman retired the first 13 Panthers he faced in his first Club Baseball appearance.

Hansen induced several ground balls, including five to sophomore second baseman, Brian Mariska. The Panthers only had 16 batters come to the plate and Mariska finished the day with five assists and two put-outs.

UW – DI 13, Marquette 2

Up and down the lineup the Badgers had players with multiple hits. The Badgers were able to score in each of the four innings and DI won their second game of the weekend by the run-rule.

Each of the teams that were invited were NCBA DI teams. Once the Badgers got rolling, they showed why both of the teams in the program could be playing deep into the Spring Semester’s exam week.

October Baseball in Madison

This weekend the Club Baseball teams will be playing in and around Madison. The following schedule includes locations of the games and times that games will start. We look forward to seeing people there.

Friday, UW DI vs. UW-Whitewater — 5:00 PM at Mansfield Park in Madison (201 S Gammon Rd.)
Saturday, UW DII vs. Marquette — 11:00 AM at Norse Park in Stoughton
Saturday, UW DII vs UW-Whitewater — 1:30 PM at Ahuska Park in Monona
Saturday, UW DI vs UW-Milwaukee — 6:30 PM at Ahuska Park in Monona
Sunday, UW DI vs. Marquette — 11:00 AM at Ahuska Park in Monona
Sunday, UW DII vs. UW-Milwaukee — 11:00 AM at Norse Park in Stoughton.
On Wisconsin!
Follow us on Twitter for more updates.
@ClubBaseballUW

Try-Outs Today and Tomorrow

We will have try-outs today at 4:00 and at 6:00, as well as tomorrow evening at 5:00.

To sign up, follow this link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1E9CKMgX4vsRn4HD99p_KyDMQeOHBpBtwRLfn5yfI3zg/edit#gid=0

We will leave from the parking lot in front of the business mall at the corner of West Washington Ave and Regent St. As it says in the above link, we will be leaving at 3:45 for Ahuska Park in Monona.

Make sure you to follow the instructions in the Become a Member tab above.

Contact jknuteson@wisc.edu with any questions.

New Season Beginning

Please make sure you check our ‘Become a Member’ tab in the toolbar for generic information regarding what it takes to play for our team. If you or anyone you know is interested in continuing playing baseball at the collegiate level, please refer them here.

More specific information — including important dates — can be found below. Over the next week we will have four informational sessions for potential players.

Keep on!

If you would like some more information, these events will be helpful for you:
September 3 — Rec Sports hosts an event where students have a chance to find out what sports clubs exist and whether or not they are interested. This event is at the UW Natatorium from 5:00PM to 7:00PM.
September 8 — Rec Sports will be hosting another event similar to the event on September 3. This event will be at the SERF from 5:00PM to 7:00PM.
September 8 — The Student Org Fair will be held at the Kohl Center from 5:00PM to 8:00PM.
September 9 — The second Student Org Fair will be held at the Kohl Center from 5:00PM to 8:00PM.
If you know that you would like to try out, come sign up:
September 9 — Engineering Hall Rm 1213 from 8:00PM to 9:00PM.
We will go over more official details and get new players signed up for try-outs. Bring your lap tops.
September 10 — Memorial Union (RIP) from 8:00PM to 9:00PM.
Another opportunity to get signed up for try-outs. Bring your lap tops.
September 13th is the first week that we will be evaluating baseball talent, making cuts, and playing baseball.

 

Volleyball Fundraiser Approaching

People consistently ask us how they can help our program maintain our level of excellence. We have several fundraisers throughout the calendar year and our Volleyball Tournament is quickly approaching: August 15th to be exact.

Time is running out to play in the tournament, but Lucky’s Bar & Grille in Waunakee still promises to host an entertaining event worth attending. See our Facebook event for more details.

If you’re a student and you’re concerned that you have to move into your apartment on August 15th, but still would love to play Volleyball and contribute to our program, we will be having another tournament on August 29th at Coliseum Bar in Madison.

Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page to remain updated about the various ways that you can get involved!

Thank you and On Wisconsin!