Although both teams ultimately fell short of reaching the World Series, both the D1 and D2 teams had successful years, compiling a combined record of 42-10 over the fall and the spring. Both clubs won their conference and advanced to the regional playoffs in the same year for the first time since 2014.
We’d first like to acknowledge the graduating seniors that have played their last game in the Cardinal and White. D1 graduates 7 players: Outfielders Adam Mattson and Taylor Tomczak, catcher John Raff, third baseman Aaron Peterson and pitchers Alex Noel, Mike Hansen and Hunter Bailey. D2 graduates just 3 players, our beloved president and infielder Jack Zoeller, outfielder Tony DeBartolo and first basemen-turned coach Mitchell Hunger. Thank you for your contributions both on and off the field and for leading a dominant era of Badger Club Baseball. Go change the world!
The D1 Badgers started off with a red-hot Florida trip, winning all five games, including beating defending Great Lakes Regional Champion Illinois.
Wisconsin then returned from the Sunshine State for conference play and dropped their first game to UW-Milwaukee. But the Badgers would respond and win their next nine conference games to clinch the Great Lakes West for the second straight year. The pitching staff was dominant through that win streak, allowing more than two runs just once.
UW then entered the Great Lakes Regional Tournament with yet another rematch against Illinois. Wisconsin dominated from start to finish, capturing an 11-1 victory. Senior Alex Noel dazzled in his final outing as a Badger, throwing a complete game and striking out eight.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin would struggle in the next two games and D1’s season came to a close after a 7-2 loss to Illinois.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, D1 has a lot to hold their heads high about. The Badgers finished 18-4 overall and 13-2 in conference, winning the league by four games.
Junior outfielder Ed Olson was a dominant force at the plate, leading the team with a .387 average while smacking 10 doubles and scoring 23 runs.
Junior outfielder Connor Rolain was also stellar, hitting .367 with a .506 OBP. Junior second baseman Brian Mariska compiled a strong campaign, batting .348 and leading the team with 15 RBI. Junior outfielder Colten DeMorett also had 15 RBI, scored 19 runs and hit .328.
Noel led the pitching staff, going 8-0 with a 2.04 ERA. He struck out 45 batters in 44 innings pitched. Junior Nick Newburg was strong as the second starter, earning a 1.33 ERA over 27 innings. Junior Austin Mullins was a workhorse in relief, throwing 24 innings while holding opponents to a .221 batting average.
The Badgers will return an exceptionally deep and talented junior class next season and will look to make another regional appearance and advance to the World Series.
After a couple disappointing seasons in which D2 fell just a few games short in the conference, Wisconsin turned it around this year, going 13-1 in District V West to capture the title by four games.
The Badgers went 3-2 in Florida, stumbling in games against Illinois (D2) and UW-Whitewater. But UW quickly made adjustments and stormed through its conference schedule, going 11-0. The run was highlighted by junior Alec Nelson’s no-hitter against UW-La Crosse.
Wisconsin entered the District V Playoff as the No. 1 seed, but suffered a tough 5-3 loss in the opening game to Northern Illinois. The Badgers bounced back on Day 2 though, first defeating South Dakota State 3-0, thanks to another dominant effort by Nelson. Wisconsin then got revenge against NIU, putting on an offensive display and sending the Huskies packing with a 14-0 victory.
The win sent the Badgers to championship Sunday, where they had to win twice against the University of Windsor. Wisconsin struggled in the first inning, allowing Windsor to take an early 4-0 lead. The Badgers battled back to make it 4-3, but could not complete the comeback, and D2’s season came to a gut-wrenching close.
Nonetheless, the team came within just two games of its first trip to the World Series in four years and lost to a very formidable opponent. Windsor would go all the way to the National Title Game, where it lost to Slippery Rock 1-0.
Nelson was unbelievable in the spring, throwing 24-straight scoreless innings, a stretch in which he allowed just four hits. After a tough outing in Florida, he settled down and did not allow a single run to cross home plate for the rest of the season. In 39⅔ innings of work, Nelson held opponents to a .140 batting average.
Sophomore shortstop Jake Gain was the team’s offensive MVP, leading the team in average (.404), OBP (.507) and home runs (2). He also drove in 14 runs. Junior center fielder Chris Trafton led the team in RBI with 21 and runs scored with 28. Overall, the team had an extremely deep lineup, compiling a .298 team average while also averaging a whopping eight runs per game.
With only three seniors graduating, Wisconsin is hoping to learn from mistakes made in the regional and bring a title back to Madison in the 2018 season.