1991 & 1997 NCAA Division III National Champions

USM Drops Season Opener to #5/#8 Wisconsin-La Crosse 4-2

Sophomore right-hander Dalton Rice allowed only one hit and struck out seven over six innings in USM's season opener against Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Sophomore right-hander Dalton Rice allowed only one hit and struck out seven over six innings in USM's season opener against Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Huskies Take on Ramapo College on Saturday

            LEESBURG, Fla. -- The University of Southern Maine baseball team opened its 2017 season Friday by dropping a 4-2 decision to the #5/#8 University of Wisconsin La Crosse Eagles in a non-conference game at Pat Thomas Stadium.

            The win was the second straight for the Eagles and improved their overall record to 5-3.  The Eagles were ranked fifth nationally in the first ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association) Division III poll that was released this past Tuesday, and eighth in the third weekly D3baseball.com poll.  The game marked the first time this spring that the Huskies have been outside.

            The Eagles took advantage of three walks, a costly infield error and a fielder's choice to score three times in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie.  With one out, junior JJ Belknapp (Wauwatosa, Wis.) walked, and rookie Connor Cook (Roselle, Ill.) reached on the error to put runners at second and third.  The Huskies intentionally walk senior leadoff batter Joel Zyhowski (Menomonee, Wis.) to load the bases and set up a potential double play.  Freshman Brennan Schmitt (Middleton, Wis.) worked a walk to force in the go-ahead run.  Junior Nate Roethle (Slinger, Wis.) hit into a fielder's choice that brought home Cook, and Zyhowski followed all the way from second base on the play to score.

            USM got one run back in the sixth as rookie Andrew Olszak (Danvers, Mass.) doubled and later scored on a two-out single from sophomore Kip Richard (Kennebunk, Maine).

            Richard led off the ninth with a double to bring the potential tying run to the plate, but UWL sophomore closer Caleb Willems (Luxemburg, Wis.) was able to retire the next three batters to earn his third save of the season.

            The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when junior Sam Stauble (Harrison, Maine/Bridgton Academy) scored on a two-out infield error.  The Eagles responded in their half of the frame as Zyhowski walked, moved to second on a ground out, took third on a wild pitch and scored on an infield error.

            Senior Caleb Boushley (Hortonville, Wis.) went the first eight innings on the hill for the Eagles allowing eight hits, one earned run, and one walk while striking out six to lift his record to 2-1.  USM sophomore starter Dalton Rice (Waterford, Maine/Oxford Hills) surrendered only one hit over six innings, but walked five while striking out seven.  All four runs charged to Rice were unearned.

            The Huskies, paced by Richard's three hits, outhit the Eagles 9-3 in the game.  Sophomore Zach Quintal (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) also had two hits for the Huskies.  Roethle finished with two RBI for the Eagles.

            Southern Maine is back in action on Saturday (11:00 a.m.) taking on nationally ranked Ramapo College in Winter Haven, Fla.  Wisconsin-La Crosse will finish its seven-game Florida swing on Saturday (11:30 a.m.) facing Benedictine University.