In the finale of their Arizona road trip, the UWM baseball team fell 8-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers in an exhibition matchup Wednesday afternoon. Milwaukee only had one hit on the day, but held the Brewers scoreless until the fourth inning.
Mike Fiers drew the start for the Brewers, while Germantown native, junior Brian Keller, started on the mound for the Panthers. The first three innings was a showing of stout defense by both teams. The second inning featured great pitching by both sides. Fiers started by retiring Sam Koenig, Tell Taylor, and Nick Unes at the top of the inning. At the bottom, Joe Pavlovich came on to replace Brian Keller and struck out Adam Lind, Khris Davis, and Gerardo Parra.
“I knew I was capable of doing it. I just had to pound the zone. It was fun,” Pavlovich said after the game.
The inning was especially good for Pavlovich, who has given up nine earned runs and seven walks in two starts this season.
“He has had a really hard time mechanically getting over his front side the first two starts,“ said head coach Scott Doffek after the game. ”Whether it’s just he was off time or he couldn’t relax the beginning part of the season. But today for whatever reason, he was really in tempo and got over the ball and you could see the ball coming out of his hand with some angle. That was really encouraging. ”
The game picked up in the fourth inning. As Milwaukee started rotating out their starters, Derek Peake singled up the middle, and then stole second, but UWM struck out to end the top of the inning. Sophomore Zach Brenner came onto pitch for the Panthers at the bottom and gave up three consecutive walks to start the inning. Although Matt Clarke hit into a double play, Davis followed it up with a single into left field to score Luis Sardinas and Shane Petersen. From then on, the Panthers struggled at the plate, only advancing on walks and hit-by-pitches.
The score remained 2-0 until the sixth, when Juan Centeno hit a grounder past Mike Porcaro to allow Logan Schafer and Matt Clarke to score. The next inning the Brewers padded their lead as Elian Herrara drove in Yadiel Rivera and Matt Long drove in Nevin Ashley to make it a 6-0 lead.
The Brewers then put the nail in the coffin in the 8th. Adam Weisenberger singled to drive in Bryan Petersen and Herrara drove in Yadiel Rivera again.
The Panthers ended the game with three consecutive outs in the ninth.
Milwaukee did not get any offense going outside of Peake’s hit. Brewers’ pitchers had 17 strikeouts. Porcaro was able to get on base twice by walks, but was left stranded both times.
“We’ve seen some good arms. And good arms at our level are different from good arms at this level. You could see our guys were having problems with 95 to 98,” said Doffek afterward on the lack of hits. “If you get an opportunity to face that every day, you get an opportunity to adjust. But when you show up on one day and have to do it, you can see the ball was moving pretty quick for us.”
The encouraging signs for UWM was all in the first few innings. Although Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, and Jonathan Lucroy all sat out the game, Milwaukee held their own on defense against most of the starting unit for the Brewers.
The Brewers had positives as well. Jim Henderson returned from injury to get two strikeouts and a walk. Their 17 strikeouts was a great sign for their bullpen.
Earlier this season, Doffek said this game, although it was an exhibition game, was an opportunity for the team to play against great competition. Although the Panthers couldn’t get offense going, they have nine or more runs in five games this season.
The Panthers now move onto a three game series against the University of Missouri starting this Friday, while the Brewers kick off their official spring training against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tomorrow.