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Malkow, UW-Whitewater finish 2024 campaign as runners-up

EASTLAKE, Ohio — The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater wrapped up the 2024 campaign as the NCAA Division III runners-up after splitting a doubleheader with Misericordia June 6. The Warhawks forced a decisive third game in the NCAA Division III Championship Series with a high-scoring 16-10 win in game one. Misericordia came back to defeat the Warhawks in game two 10-5.

Championship Thursday was an offensive onslaught — UW-Whitewater was firing on all cylinders in game one while the Cougars took over early in game two. The Warhawks blasted 19 hits including 5 home runs in the opener. Misericordia outhit UWW 14-11 in game two.

Michael Hilker Jr. (Yorkville, Ill./York) got the ball in the first game of the day, and the offense had his back from the get-go. Aaron Holland (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North) tagged the second ball he saw in the bottom of the first for a 1-0 lead. The Cougars came back to knot the game 1-1 in the top of the second, but the UWW offense was just getting started.

The Warhawks quieted a raucous Cougar fan base with a five-run second. The bottom of the frame saw a pair of RBI singles plate three runs before Eli Frank (Bayport, Wis./Bay Port) blistered a two-run blast to give UWW a 6-1 advantage. One of those singles was a hard shot into the right center gap by Matt Solan (Downers Grove, Ill./South). He recorded his 74th RBI of the season on that hit, breaking the UW-Whitewater program record for runs batted in during a season.

Andy Thies (Tallahassee, Fla./Lawton Chiles) registered back-to-back jacks in his next two at bats. His first of the game came on the first pitch of his third inning at bat. In the fifth, he laced a no-doubter that easily cleared a 20-foot-high billboard behind the right center wall to extend the margin to 8-1.

Scolan got in on the long ball action later in the fifth with a three-run four-bagger. UWW added a single run on a groundout in the bottom of the sixth to make it 12-1.

Misericordia chipped away, plating three in the seventh and four in the eighth, mostly off of base knocks, to cut the lead to 12-8.

The Warhawk offense continued to surge and responded in the bottom of the eighth to give UWW a cushion heading into the ninth. Dominick McVay plated the first run on a single through the right side. Two batters later, Holland tallied another base hit with a RBI single to right field. Scolan sent a deep fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly in the next at bat to push the lead back to eight, 16-8.

The Cougars were able to bring in two in the ninth, but the Warhawks got out of the jam to force a decisive third game in the best-of-three series.

Thies led the potent offensive effort with a 4-for-4 game at the plate adding four runs scored and a pair of RBI on his two solo homers. Scolan was 4-5 at the dish with a game-high six runs batted in.

Hilker Jr. claimed the win on the mound fanning five while allowing four runs in six innings of work. He capped the 2024 campaign with a 9-2 record. Relievers Sava Dupor (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South), Ethan Wickman (Spring Green, Wis./River Valley), Logan Eisenbarth (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) and Jack Hagen (San Clemente, Cal./San Clemente) combined to finish out the game for UWW.

Game two was a much different story with a rare 1-2-3 inning against the Warhawk offense, sparking the Misericordia faithful in the stands. In the bottom of the first frame, the Cougars capitalized on early free bases before the bats heated up to the tune of seven runs on six hits including four doubles.

Misericordia added two more in the third courtesy of a pair of hits and a UWW miscue for a 9-0 advantage.

UWW got on the board in the top of the fourth. Frank opened the inning with a single through the left side. Adam Cootway (DePere, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran) made it back-to-back base hits with a single to third. Following a fielder’s choice, Thies continued his phenomenal day at the plate with a double to right center that brought in UWW’s first run. Sam Paden (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville) plated the second run of the frame on a groundout in the next at bat.

The Cougars pushed their advantage back to eight with a single run in the bottom of the fifth. A leadoff single was followed by a sacrifice bunt and a pair of balks for the score.

The Warhawks cut the margin to five with three runs in the eighth. Cootway and Danny Hopper (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) both scored on throwing errors by the Cougar catcher. Thies came around to score on Paden’s double down the right field line to make the score 10-5.

Cootway bolstered the offense in game two, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a run scored. Thies ended his day perfect in the batter’s box adding 2-for-2 in game two to his 4-for-4 in game one.

Cade Berendt (Germantown, Wis./Germantown) suffered the loss to move to 7-2 on the season. Jack Hagen (San Clemente, Cal./San Clemente), Max Huseboe (Ripon, Wis./Ripon), Dupor and Hopper saw time on the mound in relief in the championship game.

Five Warhawks represented UW-Whitewater on the 2024 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team. Bennett Frazer (Oconto, Wis./Oconto), Hopper, Paden, Scolan and Cootway combined for 59 hits including 5 doubles, 1 triple and 7 home runs. The five added 33 combined runs and 36 runs batted in over the course of the eight-game championship.

The nation’s top offense was on full display at the 2024 championship as the Warhawks belted 95 hits including 29 that went for extra bases. UWW blasted 15 home runs including two five-homer games — both are second-most in championship history. UWW’s seven home runs in the final three-game series including the five-homer outing in Thursday’s opener are both championship series records.

The 2024 Warhawks tied the program record for wins in a season with a 45-12 record. UWW also set program single season records in games played, hits, runs batted in, runs, total bases and strikeouts. The squad won the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title for the 22nd time in program history, the league tournament title for 8th time and were NCAA Division III Regional and Super Regional champions this season.

With the victory in game one, head coach John Vodenlich tied the WIAC record for most wins with 728. Coach Vodenlich holds an overall record of 728-229-1 in 21 seasons at the helm for UWW.