Sean Cummins hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of the nightcap and Zack Radde drove home the go-ahead run in the ninth as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh baseball team salvaged a doubleheader split at UW-La Crosse on Friday (May 4).
UW-Oshkosh (24-7, 11-5 WIAC), ranked 11th in the NCAA Division III by D3baseball.com, suffered a 10-9 setback on a walk-off grand slam in the opener before winning the second contest by a 4-3 score.
UW-La Crosse (21-9, 11-5 WIAC) trailed the entire first game until Carson Youngquist launched a pinch-hit grand slam with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
UW-Oshkosh and UW-La Crosse remain tied for third in the league standings – three games behind second-ranked UW-Whitewater (25-5, 15-3 WIAC) – with eight contests remaining.
The teams combined for 51 hits Friday, including 27 by UW-La Crosse. UW-Oshkosh collected four doubles and four home runs while the Eagles recorded four doubles and three homers.
Logan Reckert went a combined 6-for-9 in the two games for UW-Oshkosh with two runs scored, a pair of doubles, his second career home run and three runs batted in. Radde added four hits, including a homer, and three stolen bases for the Titans.
UW-Oshkosh's Andy Brahier had a pair of hits in both contests to increase his total to 199 in his four-year career.
Jack Paulson, who had four walks on the day, established a new Titan record with 104 bases on balls during his career. Paulson also stole two bases to give him 60 during his four years. He is the sixth Titan and 11th WIAC player overall to reach 60 stolen bases.
In the second game, UW-La Crosse jumped out to a 3-1 lead after three innings before Cummins and Radde made a winner of Titans starting pitcher Jesse Sustachek, who picked up the complete-game victory.
Sustachek (4-1) allowed the three early runs (two earned) and scattered 10 hits en route to his second complete game of the year and sixth of his career. Sustachek, who ceded just four hits over the final six innings, walked two and struck out a season-high seven.
UW-La Crosse scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out throwing error, but the Titans knotted the score at 1 on a leadoff home run from Brahier in the top of the second frame. Brahier is now for the team lead with five home runs this season.
The Eagles reclaimed a 3-1 advantage behind Mitch Sutton's run-scoring double and Shane Coker's RBI single in the third inning.
Taylor Grimm led off the UW-Oshkosh eighth inning with a single and advanced to third with two outs for Cummins, who hit his first collegiate home run to right field to tie the game at 3.
UW-La Crosse attempted to score the go-ahead run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth frame, but the Titans nabbed Eagles pinch-runner Connor Cook at the plate on a relay throw from Radde in left field to Paulson at shortstop to Grimm at catcher. Cook, the second Eagle to be thrown out at home plate during the game, was trying to score from first base on a double to left-center field by Shane Coker.
UW-Oshkosh led off the fateful top of the ninth inning with back-to-back singles from Reckert and Jonathan Selchow. After a bunt failed to advance the runners, Radde singled through the right side with one out to score Selchow with the decisive run.
The Eagles brought the winning run to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth frame, but Sustachek got Zach Carney to fly out to end the game.
Reckert went 3-for-4 to pace the Titans while Brahier, Grimm and Radde each added two of UW-Oshkosh's 12 hits.
Coker accounted for three of the Eagles' 10 hits.
UW-La Crosse relief pitcher Zach Pronschinske (3-2) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk in 1.2 innings.
Eagles starting pitcher James Witt did not factor in the decision despite holding UW-Oshkosh to one run on seven hits in 6.1 innings.
In the opener, UW-Oshkosh owned leads of 5-0 in the second inning, 7-4 in the seventh frame and 9-6 in the ninth, but three straight Eagles reached base in the home half of the ninth ahead of Youngquist's first career home run.
Nate Heili and Mitch Sutton drew walks to open the UW-La Crosse ninth inning. Brennan Schmitt followed with a single against UW-Oshkosh relief pitcher Lucas Gregory. Nick McLees then entered for Gregory and served up Youngquist's game-winning homer on the first pitch. It was the first home run allowed by McLees (6-2) in 55 innings pitched this season.
UW-Oshkosh built its 5-0 advantage on an RBI single from Brahier in the first inning and four runs on four hits in the second frame, including an RBI single by Radde and a two-run single from Grimm. Grimm increased his WIAC-leading RBI total to 42 on the year.
UW-La Crosse pulled within 5-3 on a two-run single by Nate Roethle in the second inning and an unearned run in the fourth frame, but Reckert drove home Dylan Ott during the fifth frame to extend the UW-Oshkosh lead to 6-3.
Sutton hit a solo home run in the home half of the fifth inning and a two-run shot in the seventh to pull the Eagles within 7-6. Reckert then answered with a two-run homer for a 9-6 advantage in the top of the last inning.
Coker and Sutton both produced three of UW-La Crosse's 17 hits. Carney, Heili, Jack Dwyer and Brady Stolzman added two hits apiece for the Eagles.
Pronschinske was credited with the win, despite allowing Reckert's home run and recording just one out.
Reckert went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs for UW-Oshkosh, which also received two hits each from Brahier, Ott, Radde and Noah Polcyn. Polcyn's RBI single in the seventh inning extended the UW-Oshkosh lead to 7-4.
Each of the three pitchers deployed by both teams surrendered runs in the opener.
UW-Oshkosh and UW-La Crosse conclude their season series with a doubleheader Saturday (May 5) in La Crosse.
Photo courtesy of Jim Lund