The UW- Milwaukee club baseball team traveled south to Plant City, Florida for a five game series last week finishing with a record of 3-2. The Panthers were able to finish above .500 by capping off wins against the University of Northern Iowa (14-3), Kentucky (7-1) and Iowa (9-5). The Panthers only two losses came against Ohio State D II (3-5) and Iowa State (7-8). With an experienced line-up, Senior/president/player, Brennan Johnson, expects the early success to continue throughout the season.
” I expect a lot of good things this year from the team. This is the strongest that we have been of the four years I have been on it,” Johnson said. “The majority of the team are now upperclassmen and most of them have been on the team for 3-4 years which really helps. We have a lot of depth all around the field and our pitching staff is extremely strong. We have five true starting pitchers as well as multiple relievers that I have confidence in.”
The Panthers complimented the pitching staff nicely as they collected 60 hits in their five games played. Leading the Panther offense was new-comer, Ryan Rouse, who hit .778 while collecting 2 RBIs. Senior short-stop and Hortonville alumni, Andrew Wolf, wasn’t too far behind Rouse batting .625 with 3 RBIs while earning the Player of the Week for the Great Lakes-West Conference.
Senior pitcher, Joe Bianchi, followed up Wolfs honors by winning Pitcher of the Week for the Great Lakes-West conference. Bianchi posted a 0.00 ERA in 7 innings pitched with a WHIP of 0.57.
Johnson believes Milwaukee should finish at the top of the conference but will have to beat UW-Madison that finished in first place in the conference and reached the National Championship just a year ago.
“I believe this team should finish 1st in the Great Lakes-West this year. Our biggest competition will be Madison, but we knew that coming in,” Johnson said. However, we beat them 2 out of 3 games last year and have always done well against them so I think we can take the conference.”
If four-year players such as Bianchi and Wolf can stay consistent throughout the year, Milwaukee has a chance to earn its’ first conference title since 2011. With the veterans on the team leading the way, Johnson mentioned his excitement for first-year player Ryan Rouse not only as a hitter but also as a pitcher and said he should be on the bump for plenty of starts this season. Along with Rouse, the team has added depth in position players including; Mike Raeder, Kevin Klipstein, Nathan Kipfer, and Dustin Brah.
“They all hit the ball well, but Mike and Nathan did especially well and combined for 9-17 at the plate including multiple extra base hits,” Johnson said.
Milwaukee will play next in a three-game series v.s. Northwestern the weekend of April 3-4 before facing Madison in a three-game series the following weekend.