Warhawks stay alive
There was plenty of laughter, an abundance of smiles and even some players auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance.”
The dancing may have been suspect, but it turned out the baseball was top-shelf.
The Warhawks received a superb starting effort from 26-year-old sophomore Justin Lambert and heavy contributions from the top of their lineup as they remained alive in the NCAA Division III World Series with an 8-3 victory over Western New England at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Warhawks (37-12) will take on Chapman (34-12) at noon today in another elimination game.
“No worries at all,” said Matt Beyer, a junior left fielder from Janesville Parker. “We just came out acting like we had nothing to lose. If we got a win we keep playing, so we had fun while we’re doing it.”
Fun was the operative word for the Warhawks, who started fast with a three-run first, highlighted by Jeff Donovan’s two-run triple. After the Golden Bears closed to within 3-2 in the fourth, Whitewater put the game away with a pair of runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Donovan and Jared Fon had RBI doubles in the sixth. A throwing error and RBI singles by Rob Coe and Brent Young accounted for the three runs in the seventh.
Donovan finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and the top four hitters in the Warhawks’ lineup combined for six hits and scored all eight runs.
“I was just looking for something I could elevate,” Donovan said of his approach at the plate. “With that wind today it kind of put my mind at ease, knowing I didn’t have to swing that hard.”
And after a difficult night Friday in which the Warhawks left 12 runners stranded and put their backs against the proverbial wall, they were clearly more at ease Saturday.
“It was frustrating because I know how important getting the first win is,” said Donovan. “Everything is a little easier if you get that first win. But coming out here it was a do-or-die mentality, and I think that actually relaxes the guys a little bit knowing that they can let it all hang out.”
Lambert, the No. 3 starter, was a somewhat surprise selection by Whitewater coach John Vodenlich as Riley Tincher, who tied for the team lead with 10 wins, remained on the bench through two games. But that decision now appears to be working in Whitewater’s favor.
“I feel very good. I feel we have a lot of pitching left,” said Beyer, who went 0-for-3 Saturday and is still looking for his first hit of the tournament. “Other teams, once they get past their big pitcher, they don’t have much in the bullpen. For us, I can trust any pitcher we put out there. So I feel like we’re sitting pretty good.”
Vodenlich also felt his team, despite its position in the losers’ bracket, was in better shape than most teams remaining.
“Hopefully we’re here for a while,” said Vodenlich. “They understand our backs are against the wall. We have to play each and every day. I feel pretty good as this tournament is unfolding our pitching depth is going to carry us.
“As some of the top-end pitching kind of leaves the tournament I feel even more capable offensively. I think it sets up fine for us. As long as we can bring a focused approach each day I think we have a chance to win.”
WHITEWATER 8, WESTERN NEW ENGLAND 3
Western New England (ab-r-h-rbi)—Anthonis, rf, 3-0-0-0; Dadio, ph-rf, 1-0-0-0; Clark, 2b, 3-1-1-0; Dudzinski, lf, 3-1-0-0; Trubia, 1b, 3-1-0-0; Rubino, 3b, 3-0-1-1; Leclerc, c, 4-0-2-2; False, cf, 4-0-0-0; Taylor, dh, 3-0-0-0; McKelvey, ss, 3-0-1-0. Totals: 30-3-5-3.
Whitewater (ab-r-h-rbi)—Putnam, rf, 4-2-1-0; Eichstaedt, ss, 3-1-1-0; Coe, c, 3-3-2-1; Gromalak, c, 0-0-0-0; Donovan, 1b, 4-2-2-4; Young, dh, 3-0-1-1; Leavitt, pr, 0-0-0-0; Fon, 3b, 4-0-2-1; Beyer, lf, 3-0-0-0; Friend, cf, 4-0-0-0; Wessels, 2b, 2-0-0-0; Keller, ph, 1-0-0-0; Claudis, 2b, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 31-8-9-6.
Western New England 000 200 001—3
UW-Whitewater 300 002 30x—8
E—Western New England 2. LOB—Western New England 4, Whitewater 5. 2B—Rubino, Leclerc, Donovan, Fon. 3B—Donovan.
IP H R ER BB SO
Western New England
Cloft (L) 5 4 5 5 2 5
Jefferis 1 1/3 3 3 3 1 0
Lospinuso 2/3 1 0 0 0 0
Michaud 1 1 0 0 1 2
Lambert (W) 7 3 2 2 2 3
Roberts 1 0 0 0 0 1
Larsen 1 2 1 1 0 0