With mix of fresh faces and veterans, D2 dominates fall schedule

With the addition of a few young guns, the D2 Badgers became a more complete team, filling much needed holes. It showed in Wisconsin’s ten games in the fall, as the Badgers dropped just two contests.

In the fall exhibition tournament in Madison, the D2 boys opened up with a disappointing loss to Marquette, a much-improved D1 squad. Wisconsin responded quickly though, dispatching Loyola 13-3. Junior Drew Rust threw three shutout innings and junior Eric Van Wazer closed the door to give the Badgers their first win of the campaign.

D2 then earned a gritty win over Northwestern, a D1 team that competed for the title in Wisconsin’s conference last season. Junior Alec Nelson and freshman Bobby Pfefferle kept the Wildcats bats in check and Wisconsin scored twice in the top of the 7th to earn the victory.

In the final game of the tournament, D2’s bats were hot and they rolled over Purdue, a D1 team that played in Wisconsin’s regional. The Badgers captured a 10-0 victory to claim third place in the tournament.

After a two-week hiatus, partly due to a series against Northern Michigan getting rained out, D2 returned to the diamond for a three-game set against DePaul. Wisconsin swept the series, winning on a walk-off single by junior center fielder Chris Trafton in the first game. The Badgers rolled in the next two, winning 9-0 and 13-3.

To wrap up the fall, Wisconsin had the challenge of a tripleheader with arch-rival Winona State. Winona State beat Wisconsin two out of three games the past two years to win the conference. But this year, the Badgers prevailed, winning the first two games of the tripleheader to claim the series.

In the first, senior Andrew Wolfe threw five shutout innings and struck out six, while allowing just two hits to pick up the victory. Freshman Ryan Molini shut the door.

Senior DH Tony DeBartolo got the party started early, singling home sophomore shortstop Tyler Behle. Sophomore second baseman Jake Gain provided the big blow, crushing a home run to left-field that scored junior catcher Bobby Ehrlich. Wisconsin would go on to win 5-0.

In the second game, Nelson, Pfefferle and sophomore Colin Schrof allowed just one hit to Winona State to give the Badgers a 3-1 victory. Wisconsin scored three runs in the third thanks to RBI singles by Trafton, DeBartolo and sophomore left fielder Jacob Budnik. Wisconsin survived several threats from Winona State to hang on and win the series.

The bats went cold in the third game of the day and fatigue caught up to the Badgers as they dropped the final game 8-2. But with the series win, the Badgers jumped in the drivers’ seat in the conference and will control their own destiny in the spring.

D1 starts slow, rebounds quickly with series sweep

The D1 team got off to a bit of a slow start, going 1-3 in the exhibition tournament in Madison.

The Badgers started off the season with a convincing 14-0 victory over Columbia (Chicago).

But Wisconsin dropped its next three in the tourney, first losing a close battle to conference foe UW-Milwaukee, 7-6. Senior third baseman Aaron Peterson collected two hits, as did junior first baseman Austin Mullins and sophomore shortstop Justin Gorman.

Then, despite collecting ten hits, Wisconsin fell to Purdue 14-4. Sophomore shortstop Jake Cavaiani paced the offense, going 2-for-3.

In the final game of the tournament, Wisconsin struggled with the bats, falling to Northwestern 3-0.

But Wisconsin took the rough start as a learning experience, working hard in practice over the next week in preparation for a conference series with UW-Whitewater. It paid off for the Badgers, as they swept the Warhawks.

In game 1, Wisconsin collected 11 hits en route to a 10-2 drubbing. Junior left fielder Colton DeMorett and junior second baseman Brian Mariska each had three hits for the Badgers. DeMorett had two doubles and two RBIs and Mariska had three RBIs. Senior Alex Noel and freshman Cameron Porter were both strong on the hill for Wisconsin. Noel picked up the win and struck out six and Porter allowed just one hit in two innings of relief.

In game 2, Wisconsin’s bats stayed hot. The Badgers pounded 11 hits again and defeated UWW 7-2. The Badgers scored three in the fourth, thanks to RBIs from Mariska, Peterson and sophomore shortstop Devon Pence. Mariska kept it going at the plate, going 2-for-4 with another two RBIs.  

Mullins came in the game to relieve senior Mike Hansen and pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, striking out eight.

In the final contest of the series, UW trailed 2-1 for much of the game before scoring four runs in the fourth and adding eight in the ninth to take the series sweep with a 13-2 victory. The Badgers had 12 hits, including sophomore outfielder Chris Curti’s first multi-hit game as a Badger. Sophomore catcher Tyler Safgren had three RBIs. Sophomore Nick Williams dazzled on the mound, striking out nine over eight innings of work.  

With the sweep, the Badgers head into the spring tied atop the conference with an improved Marquette team. Wisconsin hopes to build on its conference success in the fall and take their hot bats all the way into spring.