Sunday, May 23, 2010

Add another epic game to Whitewater-Stevens Point rivalry

You really can’t ask for much more out of a rivalry than what you get from UW-Whitewater and UW-Stevens Point baseball.

This season, the teams played 10 times. And this season, each team won five games each. The teams played each other to the final game of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) tournament, where Whitewater won twice on the final day to claim the title.

Point turned the tables on the Warhawks and got the final laugh this weekend during the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional May 23 at Prucha Field at Jim B. Miller Stadium in Whitewater. But UW-W made them work for it.

To set up the scenario, Stevens Point (33-16 overall) beat Whitewater, 12-4, Friday morning to advance to the final day of the double elimination regional with an undefeated record. The Warhawks (42-7) recovered by beating St. Thomas, 5-4, to earn a rematch with the Pointers.

UW-W made the most of its opportunity, coming out hot against the Pointers. Jeff Donovan homered in the first inning and Riley Tincher pitched a complete game to guide the ‘Hawks to a 9-3 win and force a final game.

So that’s how the teams got to the final game with one loss apiece.

The teams played to a 3-3 deadlock and it appeared extra-innings may be needed to decide which of the WIAC teams would advance out of the Midwest to play in the NCAA Division III World Series. But that changed when Stevens Point coach Pat Bloom made a gutsy call.

With pinch runner Ryan Iverson on third base with one out, catcher Steve Considine laid down a bunt and executed the suicide squeeze flawlessly.

Iverson broke for home. Warhawk catcher Rob Coe scooped the ball and moved back toward the plate, but slipped and runner scored safely.

The tally gave the Pointers a 4-3 lead, the win, the Regional championship and a ticket to the World Series.

After watching the teams trade punches all season – after all the Pointers gave Whitewater five of its seven losses this year – it comes as no surprise this is how the Regional would end.

The schools have created an incredible rivalry. Though UW-SP is focused on the World Series, there is no doubt Whitewater has their sights set on Point next season to avenge this loss.

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