WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Brewers' Peralta looking to regain stride vs. Mets
NEW YORK CITY - Wily Peralta is hoping to regain his stride tonight, when he starts for the Milwaukee Brewers against the Mets in New York.
Peralta got his first win in six starts last Thursday, when the Crew beat the Twins in Minnesota. However, Peralta labored through a 101-pitch outing in which he walked three and gave up four runs in five innings. Manager Ron Roenicke says Peralta needs to get some more pitches down in the strike zone, and get some easy outs. As the skipper put it, "He works really hard on every single batter, and you can't keep doing that." Peralta is 5-and-5 this season with a 3.03 ERA. The Mets will send right-hander Jacob deGroin to the mound,. He's 0-2 with a 3.19 ERA. DeGroin gave up four runs in five innings last Thursday to the Chicago Cubs. He's had no-decisions in his last two appearances.
New York Mets' manager Terry Collins was given a vote of confidence by his boss, just before the Mets went out and beat Milwaukee 6-2 at home last night. There's been speculation about Collins' future, as New York has struggled to a 29-35 record with a .234 team batting average. Still, Mets' general manager Sandy Alderson refutes reports that Collins is on the chopping block. He said he had to take a longer view of things, and he's only addressing the subject because of the speculation. With their victory last night, the Mets avoided what would have been their first seven-game losing streak since April of 2011. A win tonight would give New York its first four-game home winning streak since August of last year. The Mets only had five hits last night, but two of them were homers off Marco Estrada which accounted for all of New York's runs.
Milwaukee Brewers' right-hander Mike Fiers says he has regained his confidence after a rough 2013 -- and he's ready to prove that he belongs at the big league level. Fiers was called up this past weekend from Triple-"A" Nashville, after reliever Tyler Thornburg was put on the disabled list with soreness in his right pitching elbow. Fiers turns 29 next week. In 2012, he had a strong Major League debut by going 8-6 in his first 18 starts. But he fizzed out by the end of the year and went 9-10. Fiers began the 2013 season at Nashville, where he went 6-3 with 92 strikeouts in 11 starts. He got called up to the Brewers last May, and struggled to a 1-3 mark with a 6.60 ERA. Fiers went back down to Triple-"A", where he got hit with a line drive in a forearm -- and it ended his season. Also, his mother died last August after suffering from Lupus. Now, Fiers says he's all about proving himself again -- and he doesn't mind doing it from the bullpen.
Former Brewers' shortstop J.J. Hardy of Baltimore is in third place in the American League All-Star fan voting for his position. Major League Baseball released its third update of the AL fan voting today. Hardy -- who made his first All-Star appearance a year ago with the Orioles -- has 754,000 votes. That's about a half-million behind second-place Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees' Derek Jeter, who's retiring this year, has almost one-point-four million votes to lead all AL shortstops. Also, former Brewers' prospect Nelson Cruz of Baltimore leads the fan voting for the designated hitter spot. Ex-Brewers' prospect Brett Lawrie of Toronto is fifth in the balloting at third base. Former Wisconsin Timber Rattler Adam Jones of the Orioles is fourth for the three starting outfield spots. Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista is the AL's top vote-getter, with over two-point-one million ballots cast. National League vote totals will be announced tomorrow for the All-Star Game, to be played July 15th in Minneapolis.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will host Beloit again tonight in the Midwest League. The Rattlers lost a 9-6 contest to the Snappers in 17 innings last night near Appleton. It dropped Wisconsin to two games back for the final Wild Card playoff spot with five games left in the season's first half. The Rattlers are back to .500 at 32-32. Last-place Beloit is now 27-38.
In the Northwoods League, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters will try to end an 11-game losing streak tonight when they host Kalamazoo again. The Rafters gave up seven runs in the eighth inning last night, in a 14-2 loss. It ended Kalamazoo's eight-game losing string. Meanwhile, the La Crosse Loggers hope to start a new winning streak tonight, when they play at Green Bay. The Loggers ended seven straight victories with a 6-to-4 defeat. The Wisconsin Woodchucks will play a double-header at Kenosha, where they got rained out last night. The Eau Claire Express plays at Duluth again, after a wild 11-inning game last night which the Express lost, 16-12. The Madison Mallards are in Mequon to play the Lakeshore Chinooks. The Chinooks moved back into first place in the South Division with a 5-1 victory over Madison last night.
Former Marquette University guard Travis Diener is returning to his alma mater to become the Golden Eagles' director of player personnel. The 32-year-old Diener was Marquette's point guard from 2001-through-'05, and was on the Eagles' Final Four team in 2003. New coach Steve Wojciechowski says the Fond du Lac native has a "unique and special place" among Marquette players, and he represents what the coaching staff wants from the program. Diener retired as a pro this week, after playing for four years with Dinamo Sassari of the Italian League. Before that, he spent five years in the NBA with Orlando, Indiana, and Portland.
There will be at least two new state champions at the state high school baseball tournament which begins next Tuesday near Appleton. The field was set after yesterday's sectional finals. Lodi, the Division 2 champ from a year ago, is not making the trip to Fox Cities Stadium -- and neither is D-4 titlist Greenwood. Sun Prairie will be back to defend its Division 1 crown, and so will Oconto in Division 3. The state tourney begins with the Division-One quarter-finals next Tuesday. Sun Prairie plays Stevens Point. Bay Port faces Janesville Parker. Middleton goes up against Wilmot Union. And Kimberly takes on Hartford. Semifinals in the other three divisions will be played next Wednesday. In Division 2, Ripon plays Viroqua. And Green Bay Notre Dame goes against Jefferson. In Division 3, Oconto faces Racine Saint Catherine's, and Mondovi plays Wisconsin Heights. In Division 4, Pittsville plays last year's runner-up Lake Country Lutheran. And Ithaca takes on Chippewa Falls McDonell. Title games are next Thursday.
Madison golfer Steve Stricker knows that the odds are against him, as he again plays for his first major title in the U.S. Open which begins tomorrow at Pinehurst. The 47-year-old Stricker has returned to top form lately, tying for sixth at the Memorial Tournament and 13th at the Players Championship. Still, only one pro golfer has won a major after he turned 47. Julius Boros did in 1968, when he won the PGA Championship at age 48. For Stricker, age isn't his only real concern. He tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his brother Scott weighs heavily on his mind. Scott Stricker is still hospitalized in Madison after surgery for a perforated intestine in January, a liver transplant in February, and kidney dialysis every other day. Scott also has Crohn's disease, and he cannot stand without assistance. Still, Steve Stricker says his brother is a real fighter -- and he expects real improvement once he can get up and build some muscle mass.
Two recent high school graduates from Wisconsin will join the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team as walk-ons this fall. Matt Ferris of Appleton Xavier and T.J. Schlundt of Delafield Saint John's Northwestern Military Academy have both enrolled at UW-Madison. Coach Bo Ryan said both are "superb academically," and they understand the commitment needed to contribute to a winning program. The 6-5 Ferris was the Eastern Valley Conference player of the year as a senior, averaging 15 points, six-and-a-half rebounds, and six-point-four assists per game. He also excelled at football for Xavier, in which the quarterback was the state's Gatorade and A-P player of the year. The 6-5 Schlundt was a three-year starter at Oconomowoc High School before transferring to Saint John's where he averaged 17-and-a-half points in his senior campaign.
UW-Green Bay is looking for a new men's golf coach, after long-time coach Bill Lindmark announced his retirement as of June 30th. Lindmark was the Phoenix head coach from 1992-to-2002, and again from 2007-through-this year. He also played for Green Bay, and was a graduate of that school. Lindmark was the Horizon League's Coach of the Year in 2001.