Pioneers off to fast start on diamond
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The University of Wisconsin-Platteville baseball team split their four-game season opener in Central Illinois over a three-day stretch.
The Pioneers stared off with a 5-2 victory over Greenville College in Sauget, Ill., on Thursday at GCS Ballpark.
After a slow start, the UW-Platteville hitters locked in at the plate, scoring all five runs in the sixth inning. Senior pitcher Adam Theis scattered seven hits over his seven innings of work, allowing two runs, one unearned. Junior pitcher Tyler Nelson pitched the final two innings, recording his first save of the season.
On Friday afternoon, the team lost their opening game in a three-game series against North Central College, 21-1. The Pioneers fell behind early, allowing three runs in the first inning. The Cardinals posted multiple runs in five of the last six innings. Senior pitcher Bill Oppriecht picked up the loss, allowing six runs in four innings.
Despite the lopsided loss, the Pioneers kept a positive attitude in the weekend’s remaining games.
“It’s a lot of fun to be on the field with this group of guys,” senior catcher Topher Scheeler said. “Last season, if we would have gotten beat 21-1, we would have thrown the towel on the weekend. But this group got up the next day and competed their butts off for two complete games.”
On Saturday, the team started their double header against North Central with another loss, this time 11-4. Scheeler went 1-2 at the plate, driving in two runs in the loss.
The Pioneers recovered in the fourth contest, salvaging the weekend split with a 4-3 win.
Down 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, the Pioneers knotched three runs in their final at-bats to pull out the win.
Nelson picked up the win, pitching two innings of relief.
UW-Platteville built on the momentum of that win on Tuesday, defeating Fontbonne 4-2. Statistics for that game and the results of the second game of the double header were unavailable at time of publishing.
The camaraderie Scheeler spoke about is a strength of the team that others recognize as well.
“We have a solid defense and great team chemistry,” shortstop Tyler Jacobson said.
Scheeler said he is hopeful for the rest of the season.
“With a team this young, we will encounter bumps in the road,” Scheeler said. “But already this team has shown that they can overcome adversity. That’s the most important thing we can have this season.”
The Pioneers will debut at Kendall Murray Field Monday, April 1.