The Milwaukee Panthers baseball team (10-15) (4-5) is currently are fourth in the Horizon Conference. The Panthers are trailing Valparaiso (13-16) (5-4), UIC (14-15) (9-6) and Wright State (18-16) (12-2).
The Panthers have struggled on the road posting a 3-12 record away from Henry Aaron field. But the Panthers still hold the longest home game winning streak for Division I, winning their last 19 games.
A quick look back on how the Panthers got to this point. The weekend of April 4th-6th the Panthers swept conference opponent Oakland and then went on to beat Northern Illinois on the road to go on a five game winning streak.
It looked as if the Panthers were back on track and competing with the Brewers for Milwaukee’s hottest baseball team. But they then got swept in a three game series against Horizon league leaders Wright State this past weekend.
Highlights of league play so far include two comeback wins against Oakland.
The Panthers were down 3-2 heading into the ninth. Then that Henry Aaron magic appeared.
The rally started after Pat Wilson singled up the middle. After an errand pick-off throw, Wilson moved to second.
A sacrifice fly got Wilson over to third and the next batter, Ryan Solberg, was hit by a pitch. With runners on third and second, Oakland threw a wild pitch advancing both runners and tying the game. After an intentional walk, Sam Hammer took the first pitch he saw into right field giving the Panthers a 4-3 win.
Game two was Deja Vu all over again.The Panthers again trailed 3-2 in the ninth. After Milwaukee loaded the bases, the Panthers pulled another rabbit out of their hat.
Oakland turned a double play on the next pitch allowing the tying run to score. Now it was Pat Wilson’s turn to play hero. Wilson drove a ball down the first base line that ate up the first basemen allowing the winning run to score. After two tight games the Panthers handled Oakland in the finale 8-2.
With a five game winning streak headed to Wright State, Milwaukee could not get a win in the three game set.
Milwaukee got a taste of it’s own wizardly ways in the first game of the series.
Up 5-4 in the ninth with 2 outs, Wright States Andrew McCafferty hit a game winning 2-run homer in walk-off fashion. Tell Taylor received the loss. Wright State then handled the Panthers in the next game 11-6.
In the series finale Milwaukee led in the ninth again but could not figure out a way to close out Wright State. UWM walked the tying run in the ninth making it 5-5 sending the game into extras.
Milwaukee was able to get something going in the 11th but stranded the go ahead runner on third with only one out. Wright State was able to shut down Milwaukee in the 12th and loaded the bases on there side of the frame. That’s when Wright States Jack Murphy hit the game winning single completing the sweep.
Early season leaders for the Panthers include Ryan Solberg hitting a solid .311 in 24 games with 90 at-bats. Mitch Ghelfi and Ryan McShane follow closely behind respectively with a .305 and .304 average.
Cody Peterson leads the team in wins posting a 3-1 record with a 5.50 era. Brian Keller is win-less at 0-3 but has pitched the most innings at 41 and has the lowest era for starters at 3.73.
Milwaukee will play MSOE at the Hank on Wednesday April, 16th to try and start another winning streak.
Milwaukee needs to find a way to win on the road if they want a shot in the Horizon league tournament. But for now the superstition at Henry Aaron field lives on.