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.