“Play them one game at a time,” University School’s head coach Tim Bartz emphasized as he talked to his baseball team Tuesday. In the WIAA Division 2 state tournament playoffs, the adage is important. The top-seeded Wildcats followed their coach’s advise in their first Regional game at USM. Behind a fine pitching performance by senior Lane Stanford, they systematically mastered Milwaukee Lutheran, 15-0.
During four innings of shutout work, Stanford struck out four Red Knights. He also picked four Milwaukee Lutheran runners off first base, thereby eliminating any threats posed by the three walks and three singles he allowed in the game.
Meanwhile, there was nothing idiosyncratic about the way the Wildcats went about their task. Like masons, the Wildcats chipped away at Milwaukee Lutheran’s foundation and build a sturdy lead. They played the basic game: get runners on and move them around the bases.
The USM batters got right to work, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Jack Wells and Greg Trinkl led off with singles. The pair of sophomores advanced a base when senior Josh Baker hit behind them, grounding out to first base. Senior Tommy Pennington drove in Wells with a ground out. Trinkl then scored when junior Billy Lawton reached on an error. Senior Nathan Burke singled to put Lawton in scoring position, and Lawton sped home on sophomore Duncan Brown’s single through the middle.
The Wildcats kept at it and scored nine more runs in the third. They scored five of those runs before making an out. Pennington started it by walking and then stealing second. Lawton, Burke, Brown and senior Patrick Lubar hit consecutive singles to score two and load the bases. Junior Nishad Agrawal walked to force in Burke. Wells hit another single to drive in Brown and Lubar. Then Trinkl singled to load the bases once more. With one out, Agrawal raced home on a passed ball to make it 9-0. With two down, Lawton doubled to deep center field to score two more. Burke followed with another double to center to drive in Lawton. The next batter, Brown, made it to first on an error that put Burke at third, and during an ensuing rundown, Burke scored USM’s twelfth run before the tag was applied to Brown to end the uprising.
Three more Wildcats scored in the bottom of the fourth. Lubar led off with a walk. He took second on a passed ball. Agrawal singled to left to put Wildcats at the corners. With one out Trinkl singled to score Lubar. He and Agrawal moved ahead ninety feet on a wild pitch. Senior Josh Baker hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Agrawal. Pennington singled to drive in Trinkl and give USM a 15-0 lead.
Nathan Burke came on in relief for Stanford and put the Red Knights down in order to seal the victory for the Wildcats.
In the game Stanford was the winning pitcher, while Trevor Kurth took the loss. Burke was 3 for 3 with two RBIs and a double. Trinkl also went 3 for 3 with an RBI. Lawton was 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBIs. Wells was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Lubar and Agrawal were each 1 for 1 with 1 RBI.
The loss ended Milwaukee Lutheran’s season with a 6-17 record. Now 24-2, USM remains on the verdant state tournament fields of play. In a battle between the top two seeds in the regional, the Wildcats face Wisconsin Lutheran in the regional final at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at USM.