It was not the outcome UW-Milwaukee was expecting, however, knocking off a national ranked, Division I team is no easy task.
The UWM baseball team opened up their season with a four game series spanning over three days down in Lubbock, Texas, at Rip Griffin Park, this previous weekend. The Panthers played one game on Friday, a double header on Saturday and the final game on Sunday.
Texas Tech, who is nationally ranked at No. 25, took the series opener 12-3. Tech broke open the fourth inning with four runs, which propelled them to their victory.
Milwaukee scored the first run of the game on an infield single by Dylan Detert and then tied the game at 2-2 on Daulton Varsho’s homerun in the top of the third. The big fourth inning push by Tech gave them a 6-2 lead up until the sixth inning.
UWM managed to load the bases after a pair of Red Raider walks and had the go-ahead run at the plate, however the Raiders were able to escape the jam with a few solid defensive plays.
Into the seventh inning Tech broke open the lead even further by adding three more runs.
“Unfortunately, we just didn’t do what we needed to do on the mound,” Milwaukee head coach Scott Doffek said.
The panthers were lead by Varsho who went 3-for-4 on the day including the game tying homerun. Ian Ross went 2-for-3 while Cole Helli contributed one hit and two walks. The Panthers put Austin Schulfer on the hill for opening day. Schulfer allowed six earned runs in 3.2 innings while strking out and walking three.
Texas Tech was lead by Stephen Smith, who went 4-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored.
Games two and three started at noon on Saturday the 20th. The Panthers put Jay Peters on the hill, followed by Jake Tuttle and Jake Sommers.
Daulton Varsho continued his hot start from the previous day by going 2-for-4 with another home run, three runs batted in and two runs scored. Peters allowed one earned run in 5 innings in his first performance in a UWM uniform.
The Panthers scored the final 10 runs of the game pushing themselves to a 10-3 victory over the Raiders. The victory was their sixth victory over a ranked team, the last one coming against #15 Iowa last year.
The Panthers got in a hole quick getting down 3-0 however a solid performance by Tuttle giving a scoreless inning cut the deficit to one. The Panthers started the seventh down 3-2. Billy Quirke then singled, followed by an Eric Solberg single, which was then followed by a Varsho three-run home run.
After the large seventh inning the team added one run in the eighth and four more in the ninth. “We stacked quality at bats,” coach Doffek said. “Varsh gave us a huge lift…most impressive was Jake Sommers in his first collegiate game.”
The Panthers could not keep the momentum going in the second game of the double-header, losing by a score of 9-1. The offense was held to just two hits, one by Luke Meeter and the other by Quirke.
“We didn’t compete on the mound or in the box early and the game got away from us.” Doffek said afterwards. The Panthers (1-2) played the Red Radiers (2-1) in the final game of the series on Sunday morning.
Texas Tech put Erikson Lanning on the mound for game four, who allowed just one hit in six innings to help the Raiders to a 12-0 victory.
The Panthers got in a hole early and was hitless until John Boidanis singled up the middle in the fifth inning. Freshman Jared Reklaitis had a strong relief appearance giving up one hit in 2 scoreless innings.
For the Panthers Brian Keller got the loss. Keller got behind in the first inning when Tech put three runs on the board. Keller allowed five runs in 5 innings, walking on and striking out three.
“I think once Keller got the jitters out, he threw the ball fairly well,” coach Doffek said. “…we knew we were going to deal with a lot of nerves. I think you will see a much more relaxed team next weekend.”
The Panthers go off to Florida next, going up against three different opponents at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. The first game is against Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 26th.