Titans earn WIAC tournament berth

Alonzo Fuller

The UW Oshkosh men’s baseball team swept the UW-Platteville Pioneers last Saturday and Sunday to make it to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. “The guys played well,” head coach Kevin Tomasiewicz said. “They knew what their job was, and they did a good job maintaining focus.” The Titans won the first game through a mercy rule. They won 16-1 in seven innings, through powerful hitting and the pitching strength of junior Peter Jewell. Jewell only allowed 6 hits and 1 run throughout the entire game. His record is now 4-4 and his ERA is 2.62. Senior Luke Gajewski led the Titans throughout the game with 5 runs, 4 hits and 3 RBIs. “We continued to play hard,” Gajewski said. “I locked in, knowing it was my last series as a senior. I have to give credit to [assistant] coach [Chris] Roberts for some of the adjustments he’s helped me with.” Freshman Andy Brahier led the team with 4 RBIs. Freshman Logan Reckert and junior Robbie Kleman each added 3 hits, with Reckert adding 3 runs and 2 RBIs, and Kleman with 2 runs and 3 RBIs. Brahier currently leads the team with 43 RBIs. The Titans controlled the whole game, only giving up one run in the first inning. “We hit the ball well, and I was extremely pleased with how they played,” Tomasiewicz said. The Titans performed the same way in their next game of the first doubleheader, earning the win in eight innings 11-1. The pitching power of junior Ben Messenger seemed too much for the Pioneers. “We just hit the ball well during this game as well,” Tomasiewicz said. Freshman John Eagan and Gajewski led the team each with 2 runs and 3 hits. Reckert led the team with 4 RBIs. The game was 3-1 at the end of the second inning before the sudden 5-run surge in the sixth inning. “We came out and pounded them the first two games,” Gajewski said. “It says a lot about this team’s focus.” The Titans returned the next day for their second doubleheader, hoping to clinch a postseason berth. They won the third game through a comeback 8-7. “[The Pioneers] fought hard in that game,” Tomasiewicz said. “We were trying to come back, but we maintained focus.” Junior Adam Rude took the win, which brings his record up to 4-2 and sets his ERA at 3.44. Brahier led the Titans with 3 RBIs, with Eagan and Gajewski adding each. Eagan also added in 2 runs. Eagan currently leads the team with 48 runs. Brahier led in hits with 4, with freshman Cooper Lang adding in 3. “It was a tough game, but they were able to secure the win for a tournament berth,” Tomasiewicz said. Even though the Titans clinched a berth, that didn’t stop them from playing well. They won the fourth game 9-6 through the pitching duo of freshmen Jesse Sustachek and Rude. “The fourth game was a little hard, but they did well maintaining focus and hanging in there,” Tomasiewicz said. Sustachek came up with the win, while Rude came up with the save. Sustachek now brings his undefeated record to 5-0. “I was feeling great, especially after the way the first game ended,” Sustachek said. “I was not as nervous as I would have been had we lost.” Sustachek said the Titans still needed that win. Lang and senior Ian Czarneski led the team with 2 runs, with Brahier, Kleman, sophomore Tyler Kozlowski and freshman Noah Polcyn adding a run. “It felt good knowing that all I had to do was throw strikes and let my defense do the work,” Sustachek said. “By putting me in the role that I am as a freshman shows that coach has a lot of confidence in me. That boosts my confidence as well.” Gajewski said his senior year has been a lot of fun and he has been the most confident with this team. He said he believes the team can make it to the NCAA tournament. The Titans will now play UW-Whitewater in the first round of the conference tournament. “They play the game with a lot of effort and intensity,” Gajewski said. “If we can match that, I like our chances of taking the next step forward in becoming a championship team ourselves.” Tomasiewicz has played baseball with the Warhawks and he knows what’s coming ahead. “They decide to be more intense around this time,” Tomasiewicz said. “We expect them to play hard and to give it their best shot.” The Titans will play at Whitewater this Friday at 10 a.m. for the first round of the WIAC championship.