The UW-Milwaukee baseball team began its 2014 season taking on the California State University-Bakersfield Roadrunners this past weekend in a three game series. The Panthers went on to lose all three games.
Friday’s season opener started off horribly. CSU-Bakersfield scored five runs in the first two innings. Senior starting pitcher Tyler Thicke gave up six total runs in 4.2 innings as well as gave up three walks, but also stuck out three.
“Tyler (Thicke) was really fighting himself the first couple of innings before he settled down a bit,” said UWM head coach Scott Doffek.
Sophomore Cal Haley and freshman Adam Reuss, both newcomers to the team, pitched for the rest of the game alongside Jonathan Nick after Thicke was taken out.
Offensively, the game started off well for the Panthers. Junior Derek Peake was hit by a pitch to begin the game. He then stole second base and was sacrificed to third. But then Bakersfield pitcher Taylor Aikenhead struck out the rest of the batters.
Aikenhead only allowed two hits in four innings, while walking three and striking out three more.
In the 8th, the Panthers managed to get a spark, with Peake, juniors Sam Hammer and Mike Porcaro, and seniors Sam Koenig and Pat Wilson getting hits. Milwaukee managed four runs that inning, with Peake, Koenig, junior Tell Taylor, and sophomore Mitch Ghelfi scoring.
However, Bakersfield managed to shore up defensively to end the game with a score of 8-4.
On Saturday Milwaukee started off better, with Porcaro and junior Luke Meeteer scoring in the first inning.
The Roadrunners then got three runs in the next three innings, including a Chance Gusbeth home run in the 3rd. Milwaukee then came back to tie the game with a Ryan Solberg run on a Meeteer RBI groundout in the 4th.
Bakersfield then answered big with a three-hit, three-run bottom outing in the bottom of the 4th, as well as gaining single runs in the 6th and 7th.
The Roadrunners defense shut down the Panthers for the rest of the game, not allowing any runs to end the game 8-3 Bakersfield.
Sophomore pitcher Jake Tuttle started the game for Milwaukee, but was pulled after giving up six runs and seven hits in four innings. Junior Cody Peterson pitched the next three innings, striking out three, before Koenig and Taylor finished the game.
Sunday saw a similar start, with Milwaukee gaining a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning off Peake and Koenig runs. They also led later in the 3rd after Koenig drove in Meeteer
Sophomore pitcher Brian Keller started and only allowed two earned runs in five innings, along with three strikeouts. But two unearned runs in the 4th allowed Bakersfield to take the lead and control the rest of the game. After another run in the 6th and four more in the 8th nailed away the game for Bakersfield.
Milwaukee never got a chance to mount a 9th inning comeback attempt. Due to a rule, they had to end the game an inning early to make the two hour trip to the airport.
Errors killed the Panthers chances on defense. Milwaukee’s four errors in the game allowed seven of the nine runs to be scored unearned by the Roadrunners.
“Obviously we are disappointed with the results, but I think this was a productive trip as we were able to learn a lot about guys,” said Doffek.
CollegeBaseballInsider.com Louisville Slugger All American and 2013 Horizon League Player of the Year Mike Porcaro went 2-8 with four walks and one run in the series.
“Obviously disappointing but it’s a long season. Just got to learn from it, keep working hard every day in practice and be better next weekend. We’ll be fine,” said Porcaro.
The Panthers head to Port Charlotte, Florida next weekend for the Snowbird Classic, taking on Omaha, Ball State, Kansas and St. Bonaventure in three days.