Titans, Pointers Split WIAC-Opening Doubleheader

Nick McLees had six strikeouts in six scoreless innings of relief against the Pointers.
Nick McLees had six strikeouts in six scoreless innings of relief against the Pointers.

UW-Oshkosh relief pitchers Nick McLees and Alex Larson combined for seven scoreless innings during the nightcap as the Titans and UW-Stevens Point split a WIAC-opening baseball doubleheader on Saturday (April 8) in Stevens Point.

UW-Stevens Point won the first game, 4-0, while UW-Oshkosh claimed an 8-2 victory in the second contest.

In Saturday's second game, McLees allowed just four hits and recorded a career-high six strikeouts in six innings pitched before Larson retired the final three Pointers as UW-Oshkosh earned its fifth win in the last eight meetings with UW-Stevens Point.

The Pointers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning against UW-Oshkosh starting pitcher Brendan Meissner, but the Titans responded with four runs in the third frame and two runs in both the fourth and fifth.

Ryan Stanicek led off the UW-Stevens Point second inning with a walk and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Stanicek to reached third base on a wild pitch before another wild pitch by Meissner allowed Stanicek to score the first run of the game. Tyler Thomka and Tommy Duddleston then connected on consecutive two-out doubles to increase the Pointer lead to 2-0.

UW-Stevens Point (8-8, 1-1 WIAC) starting pitcher Alex Stodola exited after hitting Andy Brahier with a pitch and walking both Zack Radde and Jack Paulson to load the bases with one out in the third inning.

UW-Oshkosh (9-9, 1-1 WIAC) pinch-hitter Taylor Grimm greeted new UW-Stevens Point pitcher Andrew Holzli with a two-run single to tie the score at 2. Paulson and Grimm then pulled off a double-steal of second and third bases, but a throwing error on the play by UW-Stevens Point catcher Kyle Mrozinski allowed Paulson to score the go-ahead run.

Following another UW-Stevens Point infield error that allowed Grimm to reach third base, Noah Polcyn scored Grimm with a squeeze bunt for a 4-2 UW-Oshkosh advantage after three innings.

Brahier smashed a two-run home run in the fourth inning to extend UW-Oshkosh's lead to 6-4. Johnny Eagan then drew a bases-loaded walk during the fifth inning before another UW-Stevens Point infield miscue with two outs in the fifth allowed Sam Schwenn to cross home plate and provide the game's final score.

McLees (1-1), who earned his first win as a Titan, retired the Pointers in order during the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. He limited UW-Stevens Point to singles in the third and eighth frames before running into trouble in the ninth.

Stanicek led off the ninth inning with a double off McLees, and John Popham followed with a single to put runners at the corners. However, Larson recorded a strikeout, a popup and a groundout to strand both baserunners and conclude the game.

UW-Stevens Point outhit UW-Oshkosh, 7-5, but the Pointers committed three errors and issued 12 walks.

Grimm paced the Titans with two hits while Mrozinski had a pair of hits for UW-Stevens Point.

Stodola (2-2) suffered the loss for the Pointers, ceding three runs on one hit and four walks in 2.1 innings pitched. Holzli yielded five runs (three earned) on two hits and four walks in two innings pitched.

In the first contest, UW-Stevens Point starting pitcher Cole Erickson outdueled UW-Oshkosh starter Colan Treml as Erickson gave up just four hits – all singles – before exiting in the ninth inning.

Erickson (2-1) struck out five batters and walked five to earn the win.

Treml (2-1) was charged with the complete-game loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk while registering five strikeouts. He held UW-Stevens Point to just two hits through seven innings.

Mrozinski had two hits and three runs batted in to pace the Pointers.

UW-Oshkosh stranded baserunners in each of the first three innings, but Erickson retired 14 of the 17 batters he faced from the third through seventh frames.

UW-Stevens Point's Ben Gerber was hit by a pitch with one out in the third inning. He stole second base and scored on Mrozinski's two-out single.

The Pointers then added a pair of runs without recording a hit during the sixth inning as Gerber reached on an infield error to open the frame and came in to score on a botched sacrifice bunt by the subsequent batter. Mrozinski then lifted a sacrifice fly to increase UW-Stevens Point's advantage to 3-0.

Erickson issued back-to-back walks with one out in the top of the eighth inning. He notched a strikeout for the second out. Erickson then walked Radde to load the bases, but a groundout thwarted the Titans' best scoring opportunity.

Mrozinski added a two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth inning to create the contest's final score.

Erickson exited after walking the Titans' leadoff batter in the ninth inning. UW-Stevens Point relief pitcher Drew Spaeth retired the first two Titans he faced before issuing a walk to Schwenn and inducing a groundout to conclude the game.

Paulson owned two of the Titans' four hits.

The Titans left 11 runners on base while UW-Stevens Point stranded just three.

UW-Oshkosh concludes its four-game series at UW-Stevens Point with a doubleheader on Sunday (April 9).

Photo by Jennifer Zuberbier