Warhawks look to recapture glory of 2014 season

WHITEWATER, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin | Whitewater baseball team sat atop the mountain of one of the greatest seasons in Warhawk athletics history. It was the 2014 season and they had defeated Emory University to win the title of division III National Champions.

Fast forward three seasons and the Warhawks are once again poised to make another deep playoff run. No, the football team didn’t win the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (Mary Hardin-Baylor over UW | Oshkosh). No, the basketball team wasn’t crowned champions (Babson over Augustana). But Warhawk baseball coach John Vodenlich and his staff are keeping their crew hungry as they get ready to take on UW | Oshkosh for the beginning of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. — a team they’ve beaten four times already this season.

“One of my mentors used to say ‘I may be old school; some call me new school; but I definitely have to stay in school,'” Vodenlich said Monday afternoon. “If you’re not trying to get better, if you’re not trying to grow…then things are stagnant.”

Six of this year’s seniors were freshman the last time the Warhawks hoisted the DIII championship trophy, hoping to depart the same way they arrived — as champions. Infielder Steve Chamberlain leads that senior group in batting average (.361), home runs (7), RBI (35), and fielding percentage (.972).

Vodenlich described this year’s Warhawks as the best pitching crew he’s had since “probably the 2004 season,” but he’s also not putting championship expectations on them, despite heading into the WIAC Tournament as conference champions of the regular season.

“National championships are tough to get,” Vodenlich said. “There [are] years where we’ve had great teams and a play or two, or a game or two go the wrong way and it just doesn’t happen for you. I’m proud to say I’ve been to the College World Series seven times…most of those guys are back. For them, getting back there and performing better has been the goal since we ended the [2016] season.”

Vodenlich added that the key for his team entering the WIAC Tournament is for them to get past any mistakes they make and focus on improving in the coming moments of the game.

Whitewater will host Oshkosh in the first round Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Jim Miller Stadium, followed by their second round game that afternoon or evening.

Baseball at Wisconsin: Progress Report

MADISON, Wis. — I’ve started research for my next in-depth report and I wanted to take this opportunity to let our listeners/readers know where I’m at in the process. I’ll try to do these somewhat regularly as a way to inform the public, but also allow feedback on parts I may be getting wrong or new directions to consider.

Topic: Baseball at the University of Wisconsin and if it’s possible to revive the program

Interviews completed:
Terry Gawlik | Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration, University of Wisconsin

Interviews Requested:
Jeff Block | head coach of club baseball, University of Wisconsin
Pat Richter | former Athletic Director, University of Wisconsin
John Vodenlich | head baseball coach, University of Wisconsin | Whitewater
Bud Selig | former MLB commissioner and Milwaukee Brewers owner, University of Wisconsin alum
Herb Kohl | former Milwaukee Bucks owner, U.S. Senator, University of Wisconsin alum
Steve Schmitt | Owner of Big Top Baseball and Madison Mallards

Interviews declined:
Barry Alvarez | Athletic Director, University of Wisconsin

Summary of information gathered so far: In speaking with Terry Gawlik, it appears very unlikely Wisconsin will ever revive its baseball program unless there is a substantial surplus of revenue. Operating costs have run at or very near revenue generated in each fiscal budget report for at least the last 10 years. Barry Alvarez also appears to have no willingness to bring baseball back to Wisconsin at this time.

Suggestions? Eric.rogers@madcitysportszone.com

Two Mallards named to All Star Game roster

MADISON, Wis. — The Northwoods League announced its All-Star Game rosters on Sunday, including Troy Bacon and Zach Jarrett from the Madison Mallards.

Bacon (Santa Fe College) has pitched to a 2.14 ERA so far this season with a 5-2 record, while Jarrett (UNC | Charlotte) is batting .276 with six home runs and 32 RBI.

The Mallards are currently second in the Southern Division in the second half of the season (3-2, 26-15 overall) after a 6-0 win over the Kalamazoo Growlers on Sunday. Bacon pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out one of the batters he faced. Jarrett was 1-4 with one RBI.

The Mallards’ representatives will head to Kenosha for the July 19th All-Star Game with a 7:00 p.m. start time.

The entire Northwoods League All-Star Game roster can be found below:

2016-Northwoods-League-All-Star-Rosters-1

Mallards win, fall short of playoff berth

WAUSAU, Wis. —  The Madison Mallards defeated the Wisconsin Woodchucks 4-2 Tuesday night, but they finished the first half of the season in second place in the Southern Division.

Madison needed a win, plus losses by Wisconsin Rapids and Kalamazoo in order to finish the first half of the season in first place to clinch an automatic home playoff berth this August. The Rafters and Growlers spoiled the Mallards playoff bid by securing wins, but there’s plenty of baseball left for the Mallards.

Madison struck early in Tuesday night’s win, with Nico Hoerner and Matt McCann contributing RBIs in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead over Wisconsin. Pitcher Heath Renz held the opposition to one earned run over five innings of work, adding three strikeouts to the mix.

Zach Jarrett’s seventh inning two-run blast pushed the Madison lead to 4-1 to secure the Mallards’ third straight win.

Mallards look to clinch home playoff spot

WAUSAU, Wis. — Following a 4-3 win on Monday against the Wisconsin Woodchucks, the Madison Mallards’ automatic home playoff hopes hinge on a 6:35 p.m. rematch Tuesday night.

The Mallards remain one game back (22-13) from Southern Division leader Wisconsin Rapids with one game to play in the first half of the season. Madison plays Wisconsin again Tuesday night while Wisconsin Rapids faces Battle Creek with a chance to clinch the first half crown outright.

Madison can earn an automatic playoff bid if:

Mallards president Vern Stenman believes he has a quality  team regardless of the outcome.

“The interesting thing in [the Northwoods League] is that later in the summer, the pitching gets worse,” Stenman told the Joe and Ebo Show last Thursday. “…Our team is very offensive and we think that when the league’s pitching gets worse as the season goes on, our guys are only going to get better.”

The Mallards open up the second half of the Northwoods League season Wednesday against the Battle Creek Bombers at 7:05 p.m.

Mallards sweep Chinooks with 7-5 win

MEQUON, Wis. — The Madison Mallards won their fourth game in a row Tuesday night with a 7-5 victory over the Lakeshore Chinooks.

Mitchell Kilkenny (2-0, 0.82 ERA) went six innings, giving up just one earned run on three hits. Lakeshore scored the game’s first run, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but Madison’s offense erupted for a five-run third. Shortstop Nico Hoerner delivered his 18th RBI of the season in that inning.

Madison is now 12-3 on the road this season (18-10 overall) and is now just one game back from the Southern Division lead behind the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.

Brauser’s Strong Relief Lifts Growlers Past Mallards

The Madison Mallards (13-8) were unable to overcome four errors defensively as the Kalamazoo Growlers (13-10) won by a final score of 8-7 on Tuesday night at Warner Park in Madison.

It was a rough night for both teams’ starting pitchers, as Madison’s Mike Reitcheck allowed six runs, five of which were earned, over four innings. Growlers starter Larry Wood did not fare much better, allowing five earned runs and three free passes over just an inning and two-thirds.

Despite trailing by an early 5-2 score, Kalamazoo clawed their way back by scoring four unanswered runs to take a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning. Out of the bullpen, Hayden Brauser mopped up nicely, pitching the final seven and one-third innings and giving up just four hits and two runs.

After the offense went quiet following a four-run second inning, the Mallards immediately fought back to retake the lead, 7-6 in the fifth, courtesy of a two-run single by Zach Jarrett.

Madison could not hold its 7-6 lead late though, as Connor Kopach unleashed a two-run home run in the eighth inning to provide the knockout punch for Kalamazoo. The Growlers’ shortstop drove in three runs in the win.

Four different Kalamazoo batters had multiple hits on this night, and Brauser was able to survive a two-out, two men on rally in the bottom of the 9th to preserve the Kalamazoo win. The two teams rematch on Wednesday at 7:05 on The Zone.