Wisconsin-Whitewater breaks tie in eighth to beat Cortland State 9-6
APPLETON, Wis. -- Nick Kuhlmann came through with his only hit of the game in the bottom of the eighth to break a 6-6 tie and give John Vodenlich his 400th victory as head coach of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Warhawks, 42-7, went on to defeat Cortland State 9-6 in their second game at the NCAA Division III championship. UW-W remains in the winner's bracket and will face St. Thomas (Minn.) at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Behind 2-0 after a run in each of the first two innings by the Red Dragons, Casey Power put the Warhawks out ahead with a three run homer over the left-field wall in the bottom of the second. Power's home run was his fourth of the season, and first for the Warhawks at the championship.
Cortland regained the lead in the top of the fourth on a two-run, stand-up triple to the deepest part of the park by right fielder Chris Jackson.
The lead changed hands once again in the bottom of the fourth, and this time it was Mike Mierow with the big hit. Michael Gonzalez led off the inning with a single and, after an out, moved to second on a hard single up the middle by Power. Both runners moved up a base on a groundout by Trey Cannon, and Mierow followed with a shot to the left side to bring in two runs and give the Warhawks a 5-4 lead.
Red Dragon second baseman Mark DeMilio led off the top of the fifth with a double to right center, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a groundout to third to tie the game at five. Cortland took the lead in the next inning after a series of bunts; the first for a single, the second a sacrifice that led to a Warhawk error putting runners at the corners, and the third a successful sacrifice to plate the runner and make it 6-5.
UW-W failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity in the seventh. The Warhawks had the bases loaded with one out but McClain, an All-American, struck out the next two to escape the inning with no damage.
Kuhlmann struck gold in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded and two outs Kuhlmann drilled a single to left field to score two and give the Warhawks an 8-6 lead. Adam Gregory came around to score later in the inning on a single by Dylan Friend to give UW-W a 9-6 advantage.
When no other pitchers could seem to solve either team's offense, Colin Grove did. Grove pitched the final three innings for the Warhawks and held the Red Dragons scoreless to earn the win. He struck out four on the way to his fifth win of the season.
Vodenlich becomes the second head coach in UW-Whitewater baseball history to reach the 400 win mark. Mentor and predecessor Jim Miller is the other, totaling 416 wins in seventeen seasons.
This is the third time these two teams have met in the national finals. UW-W is 3-0 against the Red Dragons on the big stage.