Titans Split Games With Second-Ranked Warhawks

Nick McLees scattered five hits during his complete-game victory over the second-ranked Warhawks.
Nick McLees scattered five hits during his complete-game victory over the second-ranked Warhawks.

Taylor Grimm drove in six runs on the day and Nick McLees earned a complete-game victory in the nightcap as UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater split a doubleheader in a matchup of nationally ranked baseball teams Wednesday (April 11) in Whitewater.

UW-Oshkosh (14-3, 1-1 WIAC), ranked 16th in the NCAA Division III by D3baseball.com, defeated second-ranked UW-Whitewater, 6-2, in the second contest. The Warhawks (15-3, 7-1 WIAC) came back to win the opener, 8-7, to snap the Titans' 12-game winning streak.

The Titans owned a 6-1 lead during the sixth inning of the first game and a 6-0 advantage in the seventh frame of the nightcap. UW-Oshkosh outhit UW-Whitewater, 19-15, on the day, including 9-5 in the opener. The Titans trailed after just three of the 18 innings Wednesday.

UW-Oshkosh, which ended an eight-game losing streak to the Warhawks, went into their conference opener ninth in the country with 9.6 runs per game and seventh with a 2.52 earned run average. UW-Oshkosh also ranked sixth nationally with 2.8 doubles per game and eighth with a .499 slugging percentage.

UW-Whitewater (15-3, 7-1 WIAC) entered the day fourth in the nation with 9.8 runs per game and sixth with a 2.47 earned run average. The Warhawks also led the country in triples per game (0.94) while listing second in the nation in batting average (.364) and slugging percentage (.580), and fourth in home runs per game (1.13).

The Warhawks concluded Wednesday's doubleheader with one double, one triple and a pair of home runs while UW-Oshkosh had two doubles – both by Grimm in the opener. UW-Oshkosh stranded 16 baserunners on the day, including 10 in the first game. UW-Whitewater, which committed nine total errors and allowed six unearned runs during the two contests, left just seven runners on base.

In the nightcap, McLees (4-1) retired the first 13 batters he faced until allowing a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth inning. McLees, who shut out the high-scoring Warhawks through six frames, went on to allow five hits while issuing a pair of walks and striking out five en route to his first complete game of the year and the second of his career.

UW-Whitewater starting pitcher Heath Renz, the reigning WIAC Pitcher of the Year and a 2017 D3baseball.com First Team All-American, held the Titans scoreless until the sixth inning, when Jack Paulson led off with a single, stole second base and scored on a one-out single by Grimm.

The Titans extended their lead to 6-0 with five runs on four hits and three Warhawk errors in the seventh inning. Jensen Hinton drove in the eventual game-winning runs with a single that plated Andy Brahier and Logan Reckert for a 4-0 UW-Oshkosh advantage.

UW-Whitewater scored single runs in the seventh and ninth innings. The Warhawks pulled within 6-2 on a one-out RBI double from Cal Aldridge, but McLees concluded the contest by inducing a popup and a flyout.

Brahier and Grimm both had a pair of hits to pace the Titans. Grimm and Hinton drove in two runs apiece.

Renz (3-1) suffered the loss, yielding six runs (three earned) on eight hits in 6.2 innings pitched. He walked two and struck out six. Renz, who produced a 9-0 record last season and a 6-0 mark in 2016, was charged with his second career loss and first since April 12, 2015, against UW-La Crosse.

Brett Krause collected two hits for UW-Whitewater.

In the first game of the day, UW-Oshkosh held leads of 4-1 in the second inning, 6-1 in the sixth and 7-6 in the eighth. However, Aldridge knotted the score at 7 with a leadoff home run – his WIAC-leading seventh of the year – in the home half of the eighth frame before the Warhawks scored an unearned run that proved to be the difference.

Blake Fleischman and Krause followed Aldridge's homer with back-to-back singles. Fleischman advanced to third base on a fielding error by Titans right fielder Sam Schwenn and scored on a throwing error by UW-Oshkosh third baseman Dylan Ott.

Warhawks relief pitcher Riley Gruetzmacher worked a perfect ninth inning to record his third save of the season.

UW-Oshkosh took a 4-1 lead with four runs on three hits in the second inning as Grimm drove in three with a one-out double against 2017 D3baseball.com All-American Austin Jones, who was a 26th round selection by the Chicago Cubs in 2016.

UW-Whitewater stormed back to tie the score at 6 with a five-run sixth-inning that featured a two-run homer from Alex Doud. UW-Oshkosh then took a 7-6 lead in the top of the eighth inning on a run-scoring single by Schwenn.

Jones and UW-Oshkosh starting pitcher Colan Treml did not factor in the decision. Jones ceded five runs (three earned) in 5.2 innings while Treml gave up six runs (five earned) across 5.1 innings.

Michael Kaska (4-1) was credited with the win after allowing two runs (one earned) in 2.1 innings of relief.

Lucas Gregory (2-2) was charged with the loss, surrendering two runs (one earned) in 1.2 innings.

Grimm went 2-for-3 with four runs batted in for the Titans while Brahier went 3-for-5 and Schwenn added two hits, two runs and two RBIs. Grimm, who entered the day second in the division with 1.93 runs batted in per game, extended his WIAC-leading total to 35 RBIs on the year.

Aldridge went 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs for the Warhawks.

UW-Whitewater's Daytona Bryden, who went into the day leading the country with a .588 batting average while listing second nationally with a .632 on-base percentage and third with a 1.088 slugging percentage, was held hitless in six at-bats Wednesday. He walked twice, stole a pair of bases and scored two runs in the opener.

UW-Oshkosh hosts UW-Stevens Point on Thursday (April 12) at Tiedemann Field.

Photo courtesy of UW-Whitewater Athletics