By Kylie Bowman

The University of Wisconsin–Stout Blue Devils kicked off conference play last week with a doubleheader against University of Wisconsin–La Crosse on April 1 before playing a pair of doubleheaders at University of Wisconsin–Platteville on April 5 and 6.

The Blue Devils travelled to Mauston, Wis. for a two-game set against the Eagles of UW–La Crosse on April 1. Initially, the game was supposed to take place on home territory at UW–Stout’s Nelson Field, but the field was not ready after the long winter.

With 25 mile-an-hour winds and temperatures in the mid-30s, the Eagles proved to be too much for UW–Stout: the Eagles scored big in the first game, winning 16-6. The second game was closer: 7-3 with UW–La Crosse coming out on top again.

In game one, senior first baseman Charlie Pelzer of Little Canada, Minn. went 2-for-3 with four RBI to lead UW–Stout, and senior Jared Francois from Burlington, Wis. went 1-3 with an RBI and pair of runs scored. Right fielder Ryan Frietag, a junior from Osseo, Wis., and junior catcher Charlie Meyer from Janesville, Wis. also had two hits apiece.

In game two, Brady Burzynski, a sophomore from Eau Claire, Wis., went 3-for-5 with a run scored batting leadoff while Francois hit his first home run of the season. Sophomore Jake Lunow of Princeton, Wis. was 2-for-4 at the plate.

The Blue Devils then travelled to UW–Platteville on April 5 and 6 for a double-header against the Pioneers each day. Saturday ended with a split: the Blue Devils won the first game 16-10 but lost the second game 6-3.

The first game had a total of 29 hits and 26 runs between both teams. UW–Platteville (5-13, 2-4 WIAC) jumped out to a four-run lead with two runs in both the first and second innings.

Brett Vavra, a junior from Chippewa Falls, Wis., got UW–Stout started, driving in a pair of runs in the third inning. The Blue Devils scored four in the fourth, aided by two UW–Platteville errors. Meyer’s sacrifice fly brought in one runner and drove in another, giving the Blue Devils a 6-4 lead.

Seven runs were scored by the Blue Devils in the fifth alone, giving them a 13-5 lead.

UW–Platteville closed the gap with three runs in the sixth and two in the eighth. The Blue Devils secured the win with three more runs in the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, the Pioneers loaded the bases, but were unable to score.

Jack Schneider, a junior second baseman from Minneapolis, Minn., went 4-for-4 with two runs, two walks and an RBI in the game. Burzynski, Meyer, Francois, Pelzer and Lunow each had two hits for UW–Stout, and Patrick Gullickson, a sophomore from Chanhassen, Minn., earned his first collegiate win, pitching 4.2 innings in relief and scattering six hits and four runs while striking out five.

The nightcap began with UW–Stout jumping out to a 3-0 lead, scoring two runs in the first inning and one in both the second and third. Unfortunately, that was the end of the Blue Devils runs in the second game. The Pioneers scored two runs in the third and continued adding on from there to come away with a 6-3 victory.

UW–Stout threatened UW–Platteville’s lead in the ninth when freshman Nick Nalbach of Plover, Wis. reached on a one-out single, Freitag drew his seventh walk of the afternoon and Meyer got Nalbach and Freitag to second and third on a ground out before Francois grounded out to end the game.

On Sunday, the Blue Devils came out swinging and won both games with scores of 8-2 and 8-7.

In the first game, Freitag changed it up from his seven walks the day before, hitting two home runs. Brent Mueller, a senior from Medford, Wis., had an impressive pitching performance, striking out 15 Pioneers. Mueller is the only Blue Devil to pitch a complete game this year; this was his second.

The second game proved to be a greater struggle for both teams. It wasn’t until the fifth inning that a 2-2 tie was broken when the Blue Devils pounded in four runs, courtesy of Burzynski and Meyer.

UW–Platteville scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but the Pioneers could not catch the Blue Devils who widened the lead to 8-4 in the sixth. The Pioneers scored two runs in the seventh and one in the ninth.

Freshman pitchers Andy Peterson from Stillwater, Minn. and Zach Carlson from Indian Head Park, Ill. were integral in the UW–Stout victory. Carlson pitched six strong innings striking out six to earn the win, and Peterson pitched the final three innings for the save.

UW–Stout will play University of Wisconsin–Superior on Wednesday, April 9 in Mauston, Wis. and will be seen at home for the first time since the 2012 season on Friday, April 11 at 2 p.m. Come and show your support for your Blue Devil baseball team!


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