APPLETON, Wis. -- Backed by three-run first and second innings, Wisconsin-Whitewater went on to defeat Southern Maine 8-1 Friday at the NCAA DIII championship at Fox Cities Stadium. UW-W (41-7) advances to play Cortland State, a 4-3 winner against Salisbury, Saturday at 8:45 p.m. ET.
The Warhawks wasted little time finding their way onto the scoreboard. Nick Kuhlmann led off the game reaching on an error by Southern Maine's second baseman. Lefty Dylan Friend followed with a single to the opposite field bringing Mikole Pierce to the plate. Pierce, a .392 hitter with runners in scoring position, delivered. He smashed a triple to right center, and just like that UW-W was up 2-0. Michael Gonzalez kept the early offense rolling with a single up the middle to plate Pierce and give the Warhawks a three run cushion.Pierce came through again in the top of the second. With runners on second and third, he drilled his second extra base hit in as many innings, this time a double down the left field line, to plate two more and give UW-W a 5-0 lead. Pierce moved up a base after a Gonzalez single to right, and scored on a groundout to short by Jared Fon to make it 6-0.
Friend gave UW-W a 7-0 lead with a one-out, bases loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth. Pierce followed with what looked like his third extra base hit of the game but Husky right fielder Chris Bernard made a spectacular diving catch to rob him of the hit and another two possible RBI.
Gonzalez tallied his second RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly to center in the eighth to plate Nick Kuhlmann and push the Warhawk lead to 8-0.
Meanwhile UW-W righty Scott Plaza was cruising. Southern Maine tallied a hit in each the first and second inning but after that Plaza locked in and sat the Huskies down 1-2-3 in the next three frames. He remained in control in the sixth and seventh before exiting the game with five strikeouts. Colin Grove pitched a perfect eighth and Austin Jones finished up the game allowing one unearned run on two hits and an error.
Pierce finished the game with four RBIs, the sixteenth time this season he has notched multiple RBI in a game. The Warhawks totaled 13 hits in the game with Pierce, Friend, Gonzalez, and Trey Cannon each responsible for two.
With the win head coach John Vodenlich moves to 399 victories as the head coach for the Warhawks. His next win will make him just the second coach in school history, and fifth in conference history, to eclipse the 400 win mark.