The No. 12 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater baseball team used a big inning offensively and steady pitching and defense Friday afternoon for a 9-2 victory over North Central (Ill.) in its first game at the Whitewater, Wisconsin Regional of the 2019 NCAA Division III Championship at Prucha Field at James B. Miller Stadium.
The Warhawks (35-10 overall) will face No. 18 Webster (Mo.) in Saturday's winners bracket game starting at 3 p.m. at Miller Stadium.
On Friday, UW-Whitewater tallied 17 hits and broke open a close game with eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Sophomore Westin Muir and junior Keith Kutzler combined to limit the Cardinals (31-12) to five hits. Muir (8-0) collected the win, striking out nine over his eight innings of work.
After 4 1/2 scoreless frames, the Warhawks took a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the fifth as senior second baseman Nick Schrader scored on a North Central error with two outs.
After a quick 1-2-3 top of the sixth by Muir, UW-Whitewater loaded the bases with one out, and junior shortstop Nick Santoro drove a three-run triple to centerfield to make it 4-0.
Schrader doubled home Santoro and came around to score on a wild pitch to make it a six-run lead. Junior centerfielder Nick Jensen dropped down a sacrifice bunt for a 7-0 advantage, and junior pinch hitter Lucas Price singled to right for the seventh run of the frame. Freshman left fielder Matt Korman hit a double to left center for the eighth run of the inning and ninth of the game.
The Cardinals responded with two runs in the seventh to cut UW-Whitewater's lead to seven. North Central had a runner on second base with nobody out in the ninth, but Jensen made a running catch and threw the ball in quickly to Schrader, who cut down the runner trying to tag from second.
Schrader, senior third baseman Cal Aldridge and junior right fielder Alex Doud collected three hits apiece to lead the offense. Santoro finished 2-for-5, and Korman registered two hits, one run scored and one RBI.