UW-Whitewater baseball team advances to championship round
The only thing holding back UW-Whitewater’s Riley Tincher from closing out a season-extending 5-4 victory over defending national champion St. Thomas (Minn.) on the Jim Miller Stadium diamond at Prucha here Friday night was the right palm of Matt Moore.
The moment the home plate umpire lowered his hand, it was over. The Warhawks’ ace-turned-closer mowed down the opposition, working at a lightning-fast clip and striking out three to earn an eight-out save in the NCAA Division III double-elimination regional.
“I had an inclination that I was going to pitch today,” said Tincher, who worked seven innings in the Warhawks’ opening-round victory Wednesday. “But coming in as a closer is way different than starting. My heart is still pumping.”
After giving up an RBI single off the end of Roy Larson’s bat that made it 5-4 with one down in the bottom of the seventh, the left-handed Tincher dialed in. After working a four-minute bottom of the eighth, the stocky junior emphatically pumped his fist when he struck out Matt Olson on an awkward swing at a backdoor breaking ball for the second out of the ninth.
“That was a huge out, because that was a great hitter at the plate,” Tincher said.
After Tom Wippler lined a single back through the box, Tincher got Larson to ground out to keep the nation’s top-ranked Division III program alive.
By beating the Tommies, the Warhawks earned a shot at redemption in a familiar situation.
After falling to UW-Stevens Point in the WIAC tournament semifinals, 15-7, last Friday, Whitewater defeated UW-Platteville and swept the Pointers on Saturday to win the title and set a precedent.
“No doubt, there’s no doubt it gives us a boost. A lot has to do with knowing that we’ve done it before,” Warhawks coach John Vodenlich said of his team’s repeat assignment against Stevens Point today in the regional’s championship round.
Friday morning, the Pointers again routed the Warhawks, 12-4, and will be the home team at noon today. If the Warhawks win, they’ll play again at 3 p.m. for the championship.
“I can tell you, when we win the first game, all bets are off,” Vodenlich said.
The Pointers sent 11 batters to the plate in a six-run third inning against Whitewater and benefited from six unearned runs, while the Warhawks committed four errors Friday morning.
“The first inning or two, we were putting good barrels on it. We just weren’t finding holes,” said the Pointers’ leadoff man, Brad Archambeau, who went 4-for-5 with three RBIs. “In the third inning, it all came together. Hitting gets contagious.”
Stevens Point’s Tyler Lorenz needed 115 pitches to go the distance and get the win over Jeff Donovan.
“It’s obviously nice to win convincingly like this, but we did the same thing in the WIAC tournament and then dumped two the next day,” Archambeau said. “We’ve got to be ready to make adjustments and play all nine innings.”
With the Warhawks playing their fourth game in three days Friday night, sophomore Kyle Lee got his first start of the season and pitched 3 1/3 innings against St. Thomas, retiring the first six batters he faced. Whitewater’s sophomore closer, Ben Versnik, worked the middle innings to get the win.
“Kyle and Verse both stepped up big time for us, and we’re going to need them tomorrow,” said Tincher, who also will be available against the Pointers today.
Neither Versnik nor Tincher are strangers to the roles they played Friday, as Versnik was a starter last season, and Tincher got the final two outs in the WIAC title game last Saturday for his first save of the season.
Despite not allowing an earned run, freshman Nick Gervais took the loss in relief for the Tommies, whose ace, Matt Schuld, worked the last three innings.
“In the end, it was two of the top pitchers around going at it,” Vodenlich said.
Designated hitter Travis Wessels and shortstop Mike Kenseth each collected three hits for Whitewater, as did Matt McQuillan and Wippler for St. Thomas.
Donovan, the Warhawks’ first baseman, seized a 1-0 lead when he drove in Daniel Putnam in the top of the first. The eighth-hitting Kenseth made it 3-0 when he went down to get a fastball and drove it into center field for a two-run, two-out single in the fourth.
The Tommies got both runs back with back-to-back doubles and a run-scoring error in the bottom half. The Warhawks took advantage of miscues with an unearned run in the sixth before leadoff man Jordan Stine scored from second on consecutive passed balls in the seventh, giving Whitewater at 5-2 lead.
With one out in the bottom half, Wippler banged an 0-2 Versnik fastball on a line to center for an RBI single that forced Vodenlich to summon Tincher.
“If you’re going to lose, you want to lose with your best person on the hill,” Vodenlich said. “That’s why I brought Tincher in, and he proved today why he’s the best.”
WHITEWATER 5, ST. THOMAS 4
Whitewater (ab-r-h-rbi)—Stine, cf, 5-1-2-0; Putnam, rf, 4-1-1-0; Donovan, 1b, 5-0-1-1; Kuhlmann, 2b, 4-1-1-0; Coe, c, 3-0-0-0; Wessels, dh, 3-1-3-0; Beyer, lf, 4-1-0-0; Kenseth, ss, 4-0-3-2; Rechlitz, 3b, 4-0-0-0. Totals: 36-5-11-3.’
St. Thomas (ab-r-h-rbi)—McQuillan, cf, 5-1-3-0; Olson, rf, 4-0-0-0; Wippler, lf, 5-1-3-1; Larson, ss, 5-1-2-2; Bruchu, 3b, 4-0-2-0; Rahm, lf, 3-0-0-0; Cremisino, dh, 4-0-0-0; Field, c, 2-0-0-0; Kappers, ph, 1-1-0-0; Bauer, 2b, 2-0-0-0. Totals: 35-4-10-3.
UW-Whitewater 100 201 100—5
St. Thomas 000 200 200—4
E—Coe, Gapinski. DP—Whitewater, St. Thomas. LOB—Whitewater 7, St. Thomas 9. 2B—Stine, Putnam, Kuhlmann, Wippler, Larson.
IP H R ER BB SO
Lee 3 1/3 4 2 1 1 2
Versnik (W, 2-1) 3 4 2 2 4 3
Tincher (S, 2) 2 2/3 2 0 0 0 3
Gapinski 5 1/3 8 4 1 1 2
Gervias (L, 0-1) 2/3 1 1 0 1 1
Schuld 3 2 0 0 0 2
STEVENS POINT 12, WHITEWATER 4
Stevens Point (ab-r-h-rbi)—Archambeau, rf, 5-2-4-3; Fritz, ss, 6-1-2-2; Jirschele, 3b, 5-0-1-2; Spurney, lf, 5-2-1-1; Richter, 1b, 5-1-1-1; Rennicke, c, 5-1-2-1; Kreuger, dh, 3-1-1-1; Surman, ph, 1-0-1-0; Saeger, pr, 0-1-0-0; Douglas, cf, 5-2-2-0; Tuschen, 2b, 4-1-3-0. Totals: 44-12-18-11.
Whitewater (ab-r-h-rbi)—Stine, cf, 4-1-1-0; Putnam, rf, 5-0-1-2; Donovan, p, 4-0-1-1; Kuhlmann, 5-0-3-0; Coe, c, 4-0-0-0; Leavitt, 1b, 2-1-0-0; Kenseth, ss, 4-0-0-0; Rechlitz, 3b, 3-1-2-1; Beyer, lf, 3-1-0-0. Totals: 34-4-8-4.
UW-Stevens Point 006 200 112—12
UW-Whitewater 110 200 000—4
E—Putnam, Kuhlmann, Leavitt 2, DP—Whitewater 1. LOB—Stevens Point 9, Whitewater 9. 2B—Archambeau. HR—Spurney. SF—Jirschele
IP H R ER BB SO
Lorenz (W, 6-5) 9 8 4 4 2 1
Donovan (L, 4-1) 3 6 6 3 0 0
Leitner 6 12 6 3 0 1
n St. Thomas 7, Carthage 5—The Tommies emerged the winners of a 25-hit slugfest to eliminate Carthage (29-18).
St. Thomas had 12 hits, including three home runs.
Tom Whippler hit the first of his two homers, a three-run shot, in the first inning as the Tommies took a 4-0 lead. Carthage rallied to take a 5-4 advantage.
St. Thomas tied it on Whippler’s second homer, a solo shot in the fifth. The Tommies took the lead for good, 6-5, in the sixth inning.
ST. THOMAS 7, CARTHAGE 5
St. Thomas (ab-r-h-rbi)—McQuillan, cf, 5-1-2-0; Olson, rf 4-1-1-1; Wippler, 1b, 3-2-2-4; Larson, ss, 4-1-1-1; Bruchu, dh, 4-1-1-0; Rahm, lf, 5-0-2-1; Bauer, 2b, 5-1-1-0; Jacobson, 3b, 3-0-0-0; Cremisino, ph, 1-0-0-0. 39-7-12-7.
Carthage (ab-r-h-rbi)—Whately, 5-0-2-3; Albers, 3b, 5-0-0-0; Aiello, 1b, 5-0-0-0; Petti, dh, 4-1-2-0; Hodges, cf, 5-1-2-0; Kozlowski, 2b, 4-0-3-1; Herrin, lf, 3-1-2-1; Soderlund, c, 4-1-2-0; D’Angelo, pr, 0-0-0-0; Eickmeyer, ss, 3-1-0-0; Hughes, ph, 0-0-0-0; Tavs, c, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 38-5-13-5.
St. Thomas 400 011 001—7
Carthage 000 500 000—5
E—Eickmeyer 3. DP—St. Thomas 2. LOB—St. Thomas 11, Carthage 9. 2B—Whately, Hodges, Will. HR—Whippler 2, Larson. SB—Olson, Bruchu, Bauer.
IP H R ER BB SO
Nelson (W, 7-0)7 2/3 13 5 5 1 1
Stone (S, 8) 1 1/3 0 0 0 2 1
Danly (L, 4-3) 5 2/3 10 6 4 2 0
Ori 3 1/3 2 1 1 2 1