Baseball takes 3 of 4 from TitansBy Colten Bartholomew • May 3, 2012 • Category: Sports
The bats came alive Senior Weekend as the men’s baseball team scored 37 runs en route to winning three of four contests against visiting University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The Pioneers won the first three games of the series 11-1, 8-2 and 10-9, with the sole loss coming in the rain-shortened fourth game 10-8.
The Titans needed to win this pivotal late-season series to align themselves well for the upcoming WIAC Tournament, but the host Pioneers showed early in game one Saturday they would not be easily beat.
Senior pitcher Bill Oppriecht got the ball to start off the series, and his complete-game performance baffled the Titan hitters.
Oppriecht allowed just four hits and one run in the 11-1 win, which was ended in the seventh by the 10-run mercy rule.
“I was able to stay aggressive throughout the game,” Oppriecht said. “The defense behind made a lot of tough plays, and it helped build my confidence throughout the game. (Catcher) Steve Wolke and I have a good rhythm, and he did a great job blocking pitches in the dirt.”
A seven-run third inning jump-started the Pioneer offense. After sophomore first basemen Kevin Fessler started the inning with a single, the Pioneers hit three more singles to start the scoring.
The Titans allowed the inning to continue after a dropped third strike, which the Pioneers took advantage of. Kessler came up again and belted a single to left field to drive in two more runs.
Oppriecht never let the Titans threaten and finished the game with a career-high 10 strikeouts.
In game two Saturday, junior Adam Theis took the mound and continued to leave hitters guessing, scattering nine hits and surrendering just two runs in the second Pioneer complete-game performance of the twin bill.
Senior outfielders Cody Luther and Levi Nei steadied the offense. Luther went 2-4 on the day with two stand-up triples, while Nei added two hits of his own along with two RBIs.
“We came out aggressive,” Luther said. “We swung the bats well and everything clicked. Hopefully we can stay hot and pick up some more wins.”
Sunday’s games were played under cloudy skies, but both teams’ offenses shook off the conditions and hit the ball well.
Game one Sunday was a barnburner that the Pioneers won in the final at-bat.
The Pioneers gave up a 9-5 lead in the eighth inning, allowing the Titans to even the score at nine. In the bottom of the ninth, the Pioneers loaded the bases after a leadoff single by senior second baseman Trevor Kattre and back-to-back bunts by junor designated hitter Steve Wolke and sophomore catcher Topher Scheeler.
Freshman outfielder Evan Greco then hit a ball up the middle to Titan second baseman Kyle Van Abel, who was playing in. Van Abel scooped the ball and threw for home, attempting to cut down Kattre who was streaking toward the plate. The ball sailed, allowing Kattre to score, giving the Pioneers their third win of the weekend.
The series finale was another high-scoring affair in which the Titans rode strong seventh and eighth innings to stave off the sweep.
The rain that fell for most of the game and eventually ended the contest in the eighth inning affected both pitching staffs and defenses, which allowed 11 hits and five errors each.
Pioneer senior starter Nate Poelmann pitched three innings, allowing four runs (two earned). Sophomore Tyler Nelson relieved Poelmann, throwing five innings and allowing four runs (one earned).
The decisive blow came in the top of the eighth. With senior Brad Kerkman toeing the rubber, three Pioneer errors allowed two runs to score, breaking the 8-8 tie and giving the Titans the win.
The Pioneers will finish the season this weekend in Stevens Point with a four-game series against the Pointers.