|Alex Cordova's three-bagger gave UW-La Crosse a 10-3 lead.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
By Pat Coleman
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - UW-La Crosse’s bats found some life as the WIAC champs sent 12 men to the plate in the fourth and eight more in the fifth to eliminate Emory from the tournament by a 12-3 score on Saturday evening.
UWL took a back-and-forth game and turned it into a blowout, turning a 3-2 deficit into a 12-3 lead.
And these Eagles did the majority of their damage with all the players who struggled during Friday’s water-logged marathon. Taylor Kohlwey, the D3baseball.com Player of the Year who went 3-for-5 in the loss to Trinity (Texas), didn’t even score until the end of the fourth-inning rally. It was the bottom third of the order setting the table, then three consecutive singles through the left side of the infield gave UW-La Crosse a 5-3 lead.
Kohlwey lofted a 330-foot single into right to load the bases in the fourth, before Justin Anderson laced a double down the left field line to clear the bases. Anderson had gone 0-for-5 with three strikeouts on Friday night.
“I just tried to listen to Gilly (assistant coach Scott Gillitzer) and stick with the approach and forget yesterday,” Anderson said. “It’s a short memory in baseball. One day can humble you and the next day you can be on top of the world.”
“We executed really well in that inning,” said UW-La Crosse coach Chris Schwarz. “We executed a lot of hit and run and put some bunts down and made things happen. Players were playing loose with their backs up against the wall and came through.
“Most of those balls through the 5-6 hole were hit-and-run, we’re just trying to get some players moving and had players at the plate trusting that they were going to put contact on the ball and make something happen.”
In the fifth inning, it was Alex Cordova’s turn for redemption. Cordova went 0-for-3 in front of Kohlwey on Friday night, but on Saturday he lashed a line drive a foot and a half over the leaping glove of Emory first baseman Bubby Terp and didn’t stop until hit was on third with a stand-up triple, driving in his second run of the game.
Before the outburst, it had been a small-ball battle. The teams who got shut out on Friday wasted no time ending their Appleton scoring drought, as each pushed across a single run in the first inning.
Emory center fielder David Coble led off the game with a single to left, stole second and came in on an RBI single to right by designated hitter Bryan Hernandez. UW-La Crosse countered in the bottom half of the first as leadoff batter Joel Zyhowski walked, moved to second on a throwing error by Emory starter Hans Hansen and scored on an RBI groundout by Kohlwey.
UW-La Crosse scratched out another run in the bottom of the second. Ben Morgan led off with an infield single and moved to second on a bunt by Travis Buxton-Verstegen. Alex Brown hit a single to right to move Morgan to third and Nate Heili laid down a squeeze bunt up the first base line. Emory pitcher Hans Hansen sprinted off the mound, bare-handed the ball, then flipped it to catcher Chris Young. Young bare-handed the throw and was unable to get a tag in time as UW-La Crosse took a 2-1 lead.
“We have things that we’re looking for in those situations and the opportunity definitely was there,” Schwarz said. “Getting a run, tacking on a run not knowing what type of game it was going to be … thinking that every run was important.”
Kenkel walked Young with one out in the fourth inning and Emory made him pay, as Nick Chambers unloaded on a ball out over the plate and launched it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer, giving the Eagles a 3-2 lead.
Hansen (9-2) took the loss for Emory, as he got tagged for nine runs, all earned, in three and one-third innings. Troy Kenkel got the start for UW-La Crosse and went the first six innings, allowing three runs on six hits to improve to 9-2.
Emory’s season ends at 34-12. UW-La Crosse remains alive in the bracket and will face the loser of Sunday's 10 a.m. game between Cortland and Trinity (Texas).