Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Three state teams make baseball NCAA Division III tourney
Three Wisconsin teams were named this morning to the NCAA Division III baseball tournament - UW-Stevens Point, UW-Whitewater, and Ripon College.
Stevens Point, which won the WIAC tournament title yesterday, earned the No. 2 seed among six teams at the Whitewater regional and will open against fifth-seeded Benedictine on Wednesday afternoon. The Warhawks, an at-large selection, earned the Number-three seed, and will open against fourth-seeded Case Western Reserve of Ohio on Wednesday evening. Saint Thomas has the top seed at Whitewater, and will open against Saint Scholastica. Meanwhile, Ripon College - the champions of the Midwest Conference - is heading to the Augustana Regional at Moline, Illinois. The Redhawks have the sixth-and-last-seed, and will start against top-seeded Webster on Wednesday. There are eight double-elimination regionals and 56 teams in all. The regional winners will advance to the national Division III finals, to be held May 24th-through-28th at Fox Cities Stadium near Appleton.
Milwaukee Brewers' right-hander Marco Estrada says he feels a million times better, after getting two extra days of rest in advance of his start tonight at Pittsburgh. Estrada has not pitched since last Sunday, when he gave up a career-high eight runs in a 10-1 home loss to Saint Louis. He has given up 13 runs in his last two outings, and he said many of his problems have been mental. Estrada said the extra time off helped, and so did an additional bullpen session he had during the break. Estrada comes into tonight's game with a 2-2 record and a 6.05 ERA. The Brewers' offense, meanwhile, hopes to put a chink into A.J. Burnett's armor. The veteran Pirates' right-hander has given up two runs or less in each of his last five starts. Burnett is 3-3 overall with a 2.57 ERA. Milwaukee has been hitting a strong .279 in its last 10 games. Ryan Braun had a 12-game hitting streak which ended yesterday, when the Crew lost at Cincinnati 5-1.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will take a three-game winning streak into their home series with the Milwaukee Brewers that begins tonight. The Brewers, meanwhile, will try to end a four-game losing string after they were swept at Cincinnati for three during the weekend. The Crew is 0-3 on a 10-game road trip against National League Central Division opponents. They've lost their last eight division contests. That's mainly why fourth-place Milwaukee has dropped to seven-and-a-half games out of first - only one game ahead of the last-place Chicago Cubs. Also, the Brewers are five games behind the third-place Pirates. Pittsburgh has been horrible lately against Milwaukee, dropping 10-of-13 at PNC Park and 29-of-37 overall to the Crew. But Pittsburgh won its last game against Milwaukee on May first at Miller Park. And the Pirates out-scored the New York Mets 21-7 in sweeping their three games series during the weekend. Veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett will start for Pittsburgh tonight against Brewers' right-hander Marco Estrada.
Marquette University men's basketball coach Buzz Williams will help train
players at a camp next month for the U.S. Under-19 national squad. Williams will joint Tim Ryan of Central Florida and Ed Cooley of Providence at the camp, to be held from June 14th-through-19th in Colorado Springs. Team USA will compete in the Under-19 World Championship from June 27th-through-29th in the Czech Republic. Florida coach Billy Donovan will head up that squad, with help from TCU coach Shaka Smart who was a standout player at Oregon High School in Dane County. Williams calls it an honor and a privilege to represent the national program. He said he looks forward to working with some of the top players and coaches in the nation.
Steve Stricker's game-plan to achieve more with less is paying off - at least in the World Golf Rankings, where he's back in the Top-10 after starting the year at Number-18. Stricker, from Madison, is in ninth place in the World rankings. That's unchanged from a week ago, despite tying for 37th at The Players Championship near Orlando this past weekend. Tiger Woods, who won the tournament, remains the World Number-One. Rory McIlroy is second, followed by Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Brandt Snedecker. Stricker has only played in a half-dozen tournaments this year, as he vowed to spend more time with his family and charities, maintain his health, and get more from his appearances. He has a pair of second-place finishes in 2013, and he's been in the Top-25 in four of his six outings. Stricker is 11th in Fed-Ex Cup points, but he has said he would not be in the four-week Fed-Ex playoff series this fall, even if he qualified.
In the Midwest League, the Beloit Snappers will host Cedar Rapids again tonight, after a wild 23-16 Cedar Rapids victory last evening. Every starting position player on both teams scored at least once, and every player for the Kernels had at least one RBI. Beloit trailed 6-2 before Cedar Rapids scored eight in the third inning to pull away. Beloit won the series opener on Saturday, so tonight's match is the rubber game. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will host Burlington again, after an 8-3 Rattlers' loss on Sunday. Cedar Rapids leads the West Division by four-and-a-half games over Quad Cities. Beloit is five back in third place. Wisconsin is seven-and-a-half back in sixth. South Bend and Bowling Green are still tied for the East lead by a game over Fort Wayne. Quad Cities hosts Peoria late this morning. It's one of four day games in the Midwest League. Clinton hosts Kane County. West Michigan is at South Bend. And Bowling Green hosts Lake County. Tonight, Fort Wayne plays at Dayton. And Lansing entertains Great Lakes.
The UW-Milwaukee baseball team improved to 11-0 at home, after an 8-3 win over Youngstown State yesterday. The Panthers broke a 1-1 tie with seven runs in the fourth inning, a day after UWM won the Horizon League regular season title. Mike Schneider picked up his conference-leading eighth win of the season against two losses. He gave up four hits and walked four, but only one run scored on him. Schneider picked off a pair of runners, raising his league-leading total to 11. Milwaukee improved to 14-7 in conference play and 26-19 overall. They'll close out their regular season on Wednesday at home with a double-header against Northern Illinois.
The Green Bay Packers will hold their 13th annual Family Night scrimmage on Saturday night, August 3rd at Lambeau Field. The date of the event was announced this morning. Besides the scrimmage, there will be numerous activities for kids - along with prizes and a fireworks show. Tickets will go on sale June 24th. Proceeds will go to the Wendy's Wonderful Kids foster care adoption program. As always, Family Night will also be televised statewide.
Madison area native Phil Kessel kept the Toronto Maple Leafs from being eliminated in the NHL Playoffs. Kessel scored the winning goal with almost 11 minutes left last night, to give Toronto a 2-1 home victory over Boston. It forced a seventh-and-deciding game in their first-round Eastern Conference series tonight in Beantown. The Maple Leafs had not won a home playoff game since 2004 until Kessel moved the puck from a pile in front of the Boston goal, and scored on a back-hander. The Bruins could not fly home after last night's game due to a problem with their airplane - so they flew out this morning.
The University of Wisconsin men's track team finished third at the Big Ten outdoor championships during the weekend at Ohio State. Nebraska won its first Big Ten title with 131.5 points. Minnesota was second with 93, followed by the Badgers with 86-and-a-half. Wisconsin had three individual league champions - Maverick Darling in the 10-thousand meters, Alex Brill in the steeple-chase, and Zach Ziemek in the decathlon. On the women's side, the Badgers finished seventh with 74.5 points. Penn State won the league crown with 133. Caitlin Comfort placed third for Wisconsin in the 5000 meters, after winning the 10,000-meter run on Friday night.