By Kylie Bowman
Over a two week stretch, the University of Wisconsin–Stout baseball team moved into a tie for second place in the WIAC by winning three of four conference games and going 6-4 overall in that time.
UW–Stout vs. UW–Superior, April 9
UW–Stout kicked off the stretch with a trip to Mauston, Wis. for a double header with the University of Wisconsin–Superior Yellowjackets, dropping the first game 18-14 before winning the second with a score of 8-6 to earn the split on April 9.
It was a rough start for the Blue Devils (17-10, 7-5 WIAC) as UW–Superior brought home seven first inning runs in game one.
In the third inning, UW–Stout briefly took control of the game, bringing home eight runs. Junior Charlie Meyer of Janesville, Wis. and senior Jared Francois from Burlington, Wis., both hit two run doubles back-to-back. Jack Schneider, a junior from Minneapolis, Minn.; Brady Burzynski, a sophomore from Eau Claire, Wis.; and Nick Nalbach, freshman from Plover, Wis., also drove in runs. After three innings, UW–Stout held an 8-7 lead over the Yellowjackets, but UW–Superior would take the lead for good with five runs in the top of the fourth.
The nightcap game started much like the first. The Yellowjackets took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but this time the Blue Devils refused to let them pass.
Senior Charlie Pelzer from Little Canada, Minn. hit a solo home run, which got the Blue Devils onto the scoreboard in the second.
The Blue Devils took the lead in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Burzynski after a triple by Jake Lunow, a junior from Princeton, Wis.
It was an impressive pitching game for Hayden Bowe, a freshman from Eau Claire, who kept the Yellowjackets off the board from the third to the seventh inning.
The Blue Devils hitters struck in the seventh inning, as Ryan Freitag, a junior from Osseo, Wis., hit a tape measure two-run homer and Francois added an RBI double.
UW–Stout added a run in the eighth inning to push the lead to 8-4. UW–Superior scored twice in the ninth, but a double play ended the Yellowjacket’s chances.
UW–Stout vs. Marantha Baptist, April 11
The next two games marked an exciting moment for the UW–Stout players. It was the first game held on UW–Stout territory in almost two years.
The home field advantage was definitely working for them, since they won both games over opponent Maranatha Baptist. The first game was won easily with a Blue Devils victorious 11-0.
Freitag scored first, smacking a pitch over the center field fence for two runs. The first two innings were big with RBIs from Pelzer, Freitag, Burzynski, Meyer, Francois and Brett Vavra, a junior from Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Kellen Pearson, a sophomore from Hudson, Wis., earned the victory in his first start of the season. He allowed only two hits and struck out three to get the Blue Devil win.
Freitag, Meyer, Francois and Kasey Kruse, a junior from Boyceville, Wis., all went 3-for-4 with Freitag and Francois contributing three RBIs.
Following that massive defeat for Maranatha, the second game was a little bit more of a fight, but UW–Stout swept the series with a 7-3 victory.
Maranatha struggled in the field early in the second match-up as Francois; Schneider; Taran Tierney, a freshman from Appleton, Wis.; and Austin Littmann, a sophomore from Pittsville, Wis., each drove in a run for a 5-0 UW–Stout lead.
Maranatha’s Crusaders pulled within two, with three runs in the third inning, but Noah Brown, freshman from Forest Lake, Minn., stroked a single to bring home two more UW–Stout runs for a 7-3 lead.
The bases were loaded for the Crusaders in the seventh, but Andy Peterson, a freshman from Stillwater, Minn., forced a double play ball, saving the game for the Blue Devils.
UW–Stout vs. University of St. Thomas, April 12
After their week of mostly wins, the Blue Devils were unable to beat 20th-ranked St. Thomas on the road.
UW–Stout lost both games with close scores: the Tommies taking 9-4 and 10-7 decisions.
The Blue Devils started with the lead 2-0 in the second inning with runs by Pelzer and Schneider, but the Tommies tied the game in the bottom of the inning.
Burzynski did well by hitting a two run double in the fourth inning, but again the Tommies responded by taking a 6-4 lead.
In the second game, the Blue Devils got out to a 6-1 lead in the first two innings.
Slowly, St. Thomas came back, regaining the lead, 7-6 in the fifth. The Blue Devils tied the score with a single from Burzynski, but the Tommies scored three runs in the sixth inning.
UW–Stout vs. UW–Oshkosh, April 17 and 18
On Thursday, April 17 and Friday, April 18 the Blue Devils took on the Titans from University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh in a pair of doubleheaders. UW–Stout conquered the Titans in both games of the first double header before splitting the games on Friday. Bowe and Patrick Gullickson, a sophomore from Chanhassen, Minn., each pitched a complete game with Bowe winning a 10-0 seven-inning decision and Gullickson taking a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.
It was the first collegiate start for Bowe and Gullickson’s first complete game at the collegiate level. Bowe scattered four hits and struck out five while Gullickson gave up only one earned run and struck out six.
Freitag had a pair of home runs, hitting a two-run shot in each game.
Game two was not won quite as easy as the first as UW–Stout did not get on the scoreboard until the fifth inning. UW–Oshkosh also got on the board in the fifth, but UW–Stout put up another three runs in the seventh, thanks mostly to Freitag’s second two-run home run of the day. Gullickson stranded two Titan runners to end the game.
Friday, the Blue Devils came back for another doubleheader that ended in a split after a particularly difficult battle in a 12-inning nightcap.
The Blue Devils took game one 7-5, but a 12-inning battle in the second game ended with a 5-6 UW–Stout loss.
UW–Stout took advantage of six UW–Oshkosh errors in the first game to secure the victory.
Zach Carlson, a freshman from Indian Head, Mich., had a long second game, as he pitched 10 of the 12 innings. UW–Stout lost a 4-2 lead in the 10th inning and a 5-4 lead in the 12th.
The Blue Devils will be back in action when they host University of Wisconsin–La Crosse on Tuesday, April 22 at 1 p.m. at Nelson Field in Menomonie.