Baseball club sits in first

Story by Anna Soldner

The UWEC Baseball Club walked away with a three game sweep against UW-Whitewater last weekend. The final scores from the games were 11-6, 11-9 and 1-0.

Senior club secretary and shortstop Jimmy Kopp said this is the first time in four years that Eau Claire’s club baseball team has won three straight games in a weekend, which he thought was significant.

“It shows that this team that has been playing together for most of two or three years and is finally starting to come together and gell all as one unit,” Kopp said.

Senior Ryan Pulvermacher led the way for Eau Claire, going 6-10 in the games with a home run, four RBI and five walks. Senior Erik Berns had the strongest pitching performance as a starter, throwing seven shutout innings while giving up just two hits and adding seven strikeouts.

Senior club president and pitcher Shawn Held said the team started out in control of the series, but ran into trouble during the second game when their pitcher’s arm started tightening up. In the end, Eau Claire still held on for the 11-9 win, which helped boost their confidence even more, Held said.

Held said the team really seems to be clicking this year and attributed that success to having a roster filled with seniors that have played together a lot.

“No one’s doing anything individually, it’s always team concepts (and) working together,” Held said. “In-between innings we call up a team huddle to get people pumped up and make sure everyone’s there, even the players that aren’t playing.”

Kopp shared similar sentiments, adding that having a healthy team has also made the season go a lot smoother.

“We’re not really plagued with injuries this year, everyone’s playing their positions well, everyone’s playing 100 percent,” he said.

With the three wins, Eau Claire improved to 9-2 in the Great Lakes Conference-West and currently sits in first place. They are now 1.5 games ahead of Marquette, who they face in a three game series this weekend. The winner of the series will be conference champion and move on to Regionals.

Knowing that Marquette has quality pitchers, senior Matt Kruger said the team will try to get to their bullpen early in the games.

“We’re just looking for our hitters to keep swinging the bats well, and for our pitchers to throw strikes,” Kruger said. “As long as our three starters can pitch like they have been all year we’ll be in good shape.”

The opening game of the series is 6 p.m. on Saturday at Bollinger Field, with the next two games being played at 12 and 3 p.m. on Sunday at Carson Park.

Kopp said the team has high expectations for the critical series against Marquette.

“I want to go in and go out with a bang … and take all three from Marquette,” Kopp said. “Just (to) show them that we’re really the team that deserves to move on because we’ve all worked so hard for it.”