The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

UW-Eau Claire Baseball drops series against UWSP

UWEC Baseball talks weekend series and the promise that was shown over the weekend
The Blugolds are over halfway through their season, but still have a lot to prepare for. Photo by Spencer Flaten from UWEC Sports Information used with permission.

“Although it might not seem like it now, those games are really good for us. We were definitely competitive,” said UW-Eau Claire’s baseball head coach Patrick Reilly after losing the weekend’s series against UW-Stevens Point.

The Blugolds’ had the challenge of taking on UW-Stevens Point who was on a five game winning streak before the series matchup and was fueled by a solid offense. 

Second-year Sebastian De La Toba had a plan to mix in his splitter to generate awkward at bats for UWSP.

“Not a lot of people throw that. It confused the other hitters and they didn’t really know it was coming,” De La Toba said.

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In 4.1 innings of work on Monday, April 8 De La Toba allowed three earned runs and generated three strikeouts with just one walk allowed. Through three scoreless innings, the use of Toba’s splitter induced three ground ball outs. With two outs in the fourth inning, an error lead to a grand slam.

Reilly knew a mistake like that would end up hurting the Blugolds’ as they went on to lose 12-2.

“In this conference, if you’re going to give away free outs or free bases you’re going to get penalized for it,” Reilly said. 

A bright spot for the Blugolds’ was their offense and their resilience. The offense was highlighted by second-year catcher Jack Sandvik. In 36 at bats this season, Sandvik has hit for a .278 batting average and a .812 OPS while having zero errors behind the plate. Sandvik had four hits over the series including a double on Saturday and a home run in the first game on Monday.

Sandvik talked about his approach going into the series and what he was looking for during his at bats.

“Going into the week we talked preparation, two strike hitting. See a few pitches in a certain location. I was looking down and away,” Sandvik said. 

Sandvik was able to work the count to 2-2 and catch a pitch in the zone and pull it into left-field. The home run narrowed the Pointers’ lead down to one at the top of the sixth inning.

Sandvik has liked what he has seen at the plate during his hot streak of play.

“Starting to really see the ball, getting comfortable at the plate. Really just looking for fastballs up there, not missing has been huge. Starting to hit barrels to all parts of the field,” Sandvik said.

As the offense rallied through the series to try to push for a win, Reilly and Sandvik liked what they saw from their pitching staff and the bullpen and got a clue from the series of what the team would look like moving forward.

“We’re starting to get some guys to fall into roles whether that be starting role, or that be a mid-relief type guy or just kind of a high leverage bullpen guy,” Reilly said. “Guys just trying to fall into roles which I think is making for quite a few of our games to be a little bit more competitive. So that is exciting to see.”

“I thought our relief pitchers did a really good job. We had three pretty close games this weekend and they all came in and did their job, throwing strikes, being competitive,” Sandvik said.

Toba had one goal in mind entering his start Monday.

“Try to do my best to get a win,” De La Toba said.

On Saturday, the Blugolds’ received solid efforts from first-year starter Nicholas Meuser and reliever Draza Dupor who held UW-Stevens Point to six  runs (five earned) and just six hits that resulted in a 6-5 loss. Game one on Monday, third-year Ben Teigland and Cole Hinkel went a combined three innings in relief allowing just three hits on zero earned runs to give the Blugolds the opportunity to compete.

The two scheduled games for Sunday, April 7 got canceled due to weather and were moved to Monday. The team went back to Eau Claire on Sunday and at 7 a.m on Monday boarded a bus back to Stevens Point to finish out the series.

Reilly was proud of how his guys handled the break in play and the weird weekend and how they’ve handled academics as well.

“Our guys have to be super open to change, they have to be resilient with that change. Impressed with our guys coming back on a school day, they got academics to balance, coming back super early in the morning,” Reilly said. “These guys, they kind of went through a lot over the last 72 hours. They were super resilient.”

Spirits still remain high for a team that knows they are capable of competing in the WIAC conference. 

“We’re always still in it, we’re all positive. None of us are really beat. None of us are really negative about our team. We have good chemistry,” De La Toba said. 

“Just going forward, clean up some mistakes in the infield and outfield and I think we can start winning a couple games here and get things rolling,” Sandvik said.

Reilly is aware of the team’s energy and their desire to get in the win column again.

“Our guys are competitive, they want to win, they want to turn it around,” Reilly said.

The Blugolds’ have a quick turnaround as they look to secure a victory against Carleton College in a doubleheader on April 10 at Mel Taube Field in Northfield, Minnesota.

Benes can be reached at [email protected]

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