UW-La Crosse Advances to WIAC Title Game with Win over UW-Whitewater

Whitewater, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse baseball team earned a 12-3 victory at top-seeded and third-ranked UW-Whitewater Friday night in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championships at Prucha Field at James B. Miller Stadium.  With the win, the second-seeded Eagles advance to the championship game Saturday, May 10 at 3 p.m.  UW-Whitewater will face third-seeded and 14th-ranked UW-Stevens Point Saturday at noon in an elimination game.  

The winner of the UW-Whitewater/UW-Stevens Point contest would need to defeat UW-L twice to earn the conference title.  The winner of the WIAC Championships earns the league's automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Tournament. 

UW-L, receiving votes on this week's American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division III Poll, improves to 26-14 with Friday's win over UW-Whitewater.  The Eagles have won 15 of their last 16 games overall.  UW-L earned a 2-1 victory over UW-Stevens Point in the WIAC Championships Friday afternoon.

UW-Whitewater falls to 33-7 on the season with Friday's loss.  The Warhawks earned a 15-14 victory in 10 innings over fourth-seeded UW-Stout in Friday's first game of the championships. 

UW-L took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning Friday night with all three runs scoring with two outs.  Travis Buxton-Verstegen opened the inning with a single before the next two batters were retired.  Jordan Greenland and Josh Rowles followed with two-out walks to load the bases.  Nic Barnes then drew the third straight walk of the inning to force in Buxton-Verstegen with the first run of the game.  Taylor Kohlwey followed with a two-run double knocking in Greenland and Rowles for a 3-0 advantage. 

The Eagles added to their lead in the top of the fifth on a Bryce Barsness solo home run to make it 4-0.  

UW-L took a 7-0 lead with three unearned runs in the top of the sixth inning.  Joel Zyhowski reached on a UW-Whitewater throwing error with one out.  Greenland singled and Rowles walked to load the bases.  Zyhowski then scored on a sacrifice bunt by Barnes for a 5-0 lead and Kohlwey followed with a two-out two-run single to knock in Greenland and Rowles. 

UW-Whitewater cut the deficit to 7-3 in the bottom half of the sixth inning.  Dylan Friend started the inning with a solo home run for the Warhawks first run of the contest.  Mikole Pierce then singled followed by a two-run home run from Michael Gonzalez to cut the lead to 7-3. 

UW-L got the three runs back in the top of the seventh with all three runs being unearned.  Cole Cefalu and Buxton-Verstegen singled to start the inning followed by a bunt single from Alex Cordova.  After a strikeout, Cefalu came in to score on Greenland's fielder's choice and a UW-Whitewater fielding error.  Buxton-Verstegen scored on a Rowles sacrifice fly to make it 9-3 and Cordova came in on an RBI single from Barnes for a 10-3 advantage. 

The Eagles finished the scoring with two runs in the top of the ninth.  Zyhowski singled with one out and scored on Greenland's double.  Rowles then reached on a Warhawks' throwing error with Greenland scoring UW-L's seventh unearned run of the game. 

Shane Adler (5-1) earned the win for UW-L, pitching 5.1 innings.  He allowed six hits, three runs and one walk while striking out two.  Jameson Sadowske picked up his third save of the season, going 3.2 innings, allowing two hits with three strikeouts. 

Eight of nine UW-L starters had a hit as the Eagles finished with 14 overall.  Greenland went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBI while Kohlwey finished 2-for-6 with four RBI.  Cefalu, Buxton-Verstegen and Cordova each went 2-for-5.  Buxton-Verstegen and Zyhowski each scored twice while Barnes finished with three RBI. 

Connor Hurst (5-2) suffered the loss for UW-Whitewater, pitching 2.0 innings.  He allowed two hits, three runs and three walks with one strikeout. 

Friend finished 3-for-5 with a run scored and RBI while Pierce went 2-for-5 with a run scored.  Gonzalez finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.