Pioneers take 3 of 4 over Blue Devils

Jeremy Williamson, General Reporter

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The Pioneer baseball team won three out of four games against the University of Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils this weekend in the squad’s seniors’ last home games of the year.

The Pioneers swept the Blue Devils 9-5 and 5-1 Saturday at Kendall Murray Field. Behind the big arm of senior pitcher Bill Oppriecht, the Pioneers were able to hold the

Devils to three runs over the first seven innings of play in game one.

“Bill always gives us a solid chance to win out on the bump,” senior catcher Bobby Patton said.

Relieving Oppriecht was junior Tyler Nelson, who kept the Devils’ bats stagnant while the Pioneers were able to cruise to a 9-5 lead on the strength of some big hits by senior third baseman Jon Lewerke and freshmen designated hitter George Jester III and second baseman Casey Schroeder.

As the clouds rolled over Kendall Murray Field, Saturday’s game two against the error-prone Blue Devils brought the Pioneers a 5-1 victory. Senior Adam Theis almost earned a complete nine-inning shutout until a two-out RBI single by the Blue Devils

drove in the conflicting run.

The Pioneers got off to a great start in the second inning when Lewerke bombed a

double to right center, moved to third on a fielding error by the Blue Devils, and secured home when the ball was thrown into the dugout.

The bats were alive again in the third inning when the Pioneers tacked on two more runs off of singles from Jester and Lewerke. Jester went three for nine for the day and

had five RBI’s to help the Pioneers earn the sweep.

“(Jester) is having a great freshman year to this day, and he’s just going to get better and better as he grows,” head coach Eric Frese said.

On Sunday the sun was out, the bats were banging and the seniors got to enjoy their last conference home series by splitting a double header with the Blue Devils with a 14-10 win and a 3-1 loss.

Junior Shane Murphy had a rough start, allowing six runs over the first three innings of play, but due to a huge fifth inning by the Pioneers offense and a three-run homer by junior first baseman Zach Demmon, they were able to tie the game up at 6-6.

Patton started off a big eighth inning for the Pioneers by reaching first when he was hit

in the arm by a pitch from University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Cody Loertscher. After junior right fielder Ryan Duva reached base on a walk, sophomore Bobby Bean advanced the runners on a bunt. Another error by the Blue Devils brought Patton home for an easy run.

Through the ninth inning, the Pioneers capped the game off by earning four more runs

off of a home run from Jester, another single by Duva and a sacrifice fly by sophomore Evan Greco. Freshman Austin Daniels relieved Murphy in the sixth, allowing four runs on five hits. Nelson closed out the game on the mound.

Going for the four-game sweep Sunday afternoon, the Pioneers offense did not show up as it did the past three games. Sophomore Mike Boushley started off the evening by

allowing two runs in the bottom of the first and holding the Devils to just one run over the next eight innings.

“We just didn’t get the big hit,” Patton said. “The offense just wasn’t able to pick Mike up.”

The only run scored by the Pioneers was in the second inning when Tyler Jacobson

reached first on a single, moved to third on a hit and scored off of a sacrifice fly by Duva.

“It’s very hard to beat anyone in this conference four games in a row,” Frese said. “I’m very proud of the guys. It’s great for seniors to go out on three of four.”

“It has been a really enjoyable four-year career,” Patton said. “Great coach, great program, and it’s been real enjoyable playing with all these guys.”

The Pioneers have a make-up game against Madison-Edgewood for their final home

 

game and then travel to University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to close the season. They said they hope to make a push for the conference tournament.

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