APPLETON, Wisconsin — Junior Mikole Pierce drove in four runs with a double and a triple and scored twice to propel the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks to an 8-1 victory over the University of Southern Maine Huskies in an opening-round game of the 2014 NCAA Division III Baseball National Championship Tournament Friday evening at Fox Cities Stadium.
The loss drops the Huskies (35-14) into the elimination bracket where they will play Salisbury University on Saturday (2:15 p.m.). Wisconsin-Whitewater (41-7) will play SUNY-Cortland in a winners bracket game Sunday (8:45 p.m.). SUNY-Cortland defeated Salisbury 4-3 in an earlier game.
In the other half of the eight-team bracket, the University of St. Thomas shut out defending champion Linfield College, 10-0, and Baldwin Wallace University edged Emory University 5-4. Linfield faces Emory in an elimination game on Saturday (11 a.m.) while St. Thomas and Baldwin Wallace move into a winners bracket game (5:30 p.m.).
Senior right-hander Scott Plaza benefitted from Pierce’s early offensive outburst to pitch seven shutout innings. Plaza gave up just three hits and two walks while striking out five to earn his eighth win.
Rookie infielder Paul McDonough had two of USM’s five hits and scored the lone run in the ninth inning after reaching on an error. Senior outfielder Chris Bernard made a highlight-reel catch and turned it into a double play in the sixth inning.
Senior starter Logan Carman took the loss for the Huskies, going 2 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and one walk. Five relievers combined to surrender just two runs over the final seven innings.
The Warhawks jumped on Carman in the opening frame as the first two batters reached base on an error and a looping single into left before Pierce crushed a pitch into the right-center-field gap for a two-run triple. Pierce scored the Warhawks third run of the frame on a single by senior Michael Gonzalez.
The Huskies got their lone run in the ninth as McDonough reached on an infield error, took second on a single by senior Forrest Chadwick and advanced to third on a fly out. With senior John Carey at the plate, UWW rookie reliever Austin Jones crossed up his catcher to throw a wild pitch allowing McDonough to score. Carey would single, but Jones settled down to get the final out.
The Warhawks outhit the Huskies 13-5 for the game.