UW-Whitewater drops World Series opener
But when you fail to defend the bunt, can’t connect for a clutch hit and continually put the opponents’ leadoff batter on base, that’s a hat trick any baseball team would rather do without.
That trio of problems was too much for UW-Whitewater to overcome here Friday as it dropped its opening game, 5-4 to Buena Vista, in the NCAA Division III World Series at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Warhawks (36-12) face Western New England in an elimination game at 1:15 p.m. today.
For Warhawks coach John Vodenlich, his team’s inability to defend “small ball” was the biggest culprit in the opening round.
“Tough game,’’ said Vodenlich. “When you look at the overall, I thought we did some good things—battled back and made it exciting.
“But I guess if I would have to summarize it for me, it was our failure to get an out on a bunt. Something that we did very well in the regional. And a big reason for us being here was our ability to defend the bunt. And today we didn’t do it.’’
The inning that bothered Vodenlich came in the seventh when Buena Vista parlayed a leadoff walk, two Whitewater errors on a bunt attempt, a bunt single and an RBI single by Brad Blum that gave the Beavers a 4-2 lead.
But the Warhawks also were hurt by their inability to deliver the key hit. They left the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings, left 12 runners on base for the game and were just 4-of-14 with runners in scoring position.
Much of that credit went to Buena Vista starter Luke Probasco, who continually came up with the right pitch when he needed it most.
“Honestly, I couldn’t remember that at all,’’ Probasco, who gave up 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings, said of the bases-loaded situations. “Don’t think too much on the mound. Just do what I’m told. Luckily, I have a really good defense behind, me and they made me look really good today.’’
The last of Whitewater’s stranded runners came at second base after the Warhawks had rallied to tie the game at 4-4 with two runs in the ninth. Matt Beyer popped out in foul territory to end the inning.
“We were right there,’’ said Whitewater shortstop Andrew Eichstaedt, who drove in his team’s first run with a sacrifice fly. “We were there. Just lost some opportunities.’’
Whitewater’s problems were exacerbated when Buena Vista had its leadoff batter reach base in every inning from the second through the seventh. Coming against a team that thrives on “small ball,” it was literally playing right into the Beavers’ hands.
“I was frustrated, yeah, because they kept getting the lead runner on and more often than not it was a double,’’ said Whitewater starter Jeff Donovan, who gave up seven hits and four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. “And they did a good job with ‘small ball,’ bunting him over and bunting them in, even. They got the squeeze that one time. Just frustrated overall.
“We have pitching absolutes. We have a chart of things a pitcher should do every time he goes out, and I feel like I could put a checkmark on half of that list. I wasn’t getting the lead hitter out, and I wasn’t getting ahead in the count.’’
After Whitewater tied the game, the Beavers got a one-out walk from Tyler Case to open the bottom of the ninth. Case advanced to second on a single, tagged and went to third on a pop out in foul territory and scored the winning run on Michael Hoffman’s single up the middle.
“Not necessarily,’’ said Beavers coach Steve Eddie when asked if he was surprised how with his team responded in its first World Series appearance. “We kind of make it a joke that we weren’t even supposed to get in the tournament, so we’re really using that just to have fun.
“Just to make sure they know that nothing matters. If we don’t win, well, so what?
“We’re just playing hard. We’ve got a lot of good seniors here, and they just want to keep playing as many games as possible.’’
BUENA VISTA 5, WHITEWATER 4
Whitewater (ab-r-h-rbi)—Putnam rf, 5-1-1-0; Eichstaedt, ss, 3-1-0-1; Coe, c, 5-1-2-0; Donovan, p-hd, 5-1-3-0; Young, 1b, 5-0-3-1; Fon, 3b., 4-0-1-1; Leavitt, pr, 0-0-0-0; Bartlein, 3b, 0-0-0-0; Beyer, lf, 5-0-0-0; Friend, cf, 4-0-2-0; Wessels, 2b, 3-0-0-0; Keller, ph, 1-0-1-0; Cladis, 2b, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 40-4-13-3.
Buena Vista (ab-r-h-rbi)—Blum, ss, 5-0-2-1; Yossi, 3c, 4-0-0-1; Hoffman, lf, 5-0-2-1; Kloewer, c, 4-2-2-0; Scheetz, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Paletta, dh, 2-0-1-1; Maxwell, pr, 0-0-0-0; Compton, rf, 2-1-0-1; Colo, 2b, 3-0-1-0; Case, cf, 3-2-1-0. Totals: 31-5-9-5.
UW-Whitewater 000 020 002—4
Buena Vista 001 110 011—5
E—Eichstaedt, Young, Blum, Colo. DP—Buena Vista. LOB—Whitewater 12, Buena Vista 6. 2B—Young, Case, Kloewer. 3B—Putnam.
IP H R ER BB SO
Donovan 6 1/3 6 4 4 2 3
Schmitz (L) 2 1/3 1 1 1 2 3
Tincher 0 1 0 0 0 0
Probasco 7 2/3 10 2 2 0 3
Dupic 1/3 0 1 1 0 1
Stone (W) 1 3 1 1 0 0