Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Axford still has closer job despite blown savesWisconsin Sports
-- Brewers’ closer John Axford still has his job, at least for now. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke says Axford is quote, “still the guy” he wants for the ninth inning, even though “Ax” has blown three saves in his last five opportunities.
MILWAUKEE - Brewers’ closer John Axford still has his job, at least for now. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke says Axford is quote, “still the guy” he wants for the ninth inning, even though “Ax” has blown three saves in his last five opportunities.
Last year, Axford went from early April until the playoffs before he blew a save. On Tuesday, he gave up back-to-back homers in the ninth inning – and he took the loss in 10-9 slug-fest. It dropped his record to 1-4. Axford’s wife gave birth to their second child earlier on Tuesday. He said he could have taken the night off – but he reported to the bullpen during the game because quote, “It’s my job – for now, anyways.” Axford’s fastball has sped up this year to the 100-mile-an-hour range, and he’s had control problems with it. Roenicke says Axford is “scuffling,” and he’s not sure why. But he says he won’t replace Axford with Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod has 292 career saves, but he has also struggled at times this year as the eighth-inning stopper. The Brewers are off today. They’ll open a three-game series tomorrow night in Chicago against the White Sox.
Milwaukee Brewers’ infield prospect Scooter Gennett was named today to the Major League All-Star “Futures Game” on July 8 in Kansas City. He was the only Brewers’ prospect chosen, and he’ll play on a team of American-born minor leaguers against the World team of foreign-born prospects. The 22-year-old Gennett plays second base for Double-“A” Huntsville. He leads the Southern League with 83 hits in 70 games. He has a .300 batting average with three homers, 19 doubles, and 23 RBI’s. The Futures’ Game has become one of the major events at the All-Star Game. It’s normally played on the Sunday before the Mid-Summer Classic.
Baseball fans in Appleton will get to see a lot of Lance Roenicke, son of Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke. He only played three games for the Helena Rookie League team when he was called up to the Class-“A” Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Lance Roenicke, an outfielder, batted .583 in his three rookie league contests. The Brewers drafted him in the 25th round earlier this month. Also, three Timber Rattlers have been promoted to Milwaukee’s higher-Class-“A” team at Brevard County Florida. Those three are outfielder John Dishon, infielder Jason Rogers, and right-handed pitcher Seth Harvey. Rogers and Harvey pitched in the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Kane County, Illinois.
A state champion player has joined the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team. The Badgers said today that forward Rachel Jones of Berlin will start playing for the national runner-ups this fall. Jones, a 5-6 forward, helped the Madison Capitols team win three state titles during her four years in high school. She had 33 goals and 34 assists in 65 games last season. As a sophomore, Jones competed with the Capitols at the Under-16 U.S. national tournament. And she took part in the U.S. development camp in 2009 and 2010.
Beloit College has a new women’s tennis coach. She’s Kara Amundson, a standout player at UW-Whitewater. Amundson expects to get a master’s degree next May in marketing and human resources – and she’s been an assistant coach for the Warhawks while pursuing her graduate degree. Amundson has over 100 victories in her Whitewater playing career.
Milwaukee Brewers’ outfielder Norichika Aoki might be running out of gas. That’s what manager Ron Roenicke believes, so he kept Aoki out of the starting lineup for yesterday’s five-run Brewers’ home victory over Toronto. The 30-year-old Aoki is a three-time batting champion in Japan. But Roenicke says Japanese leagues normally give their teams one-or-two days off each week – something that doesn’t happen as often in the Major Leagues. Also, Roenicke says he has talked to Aoki about his extensive practice schedule. In Japan, players often take a-thousand swings each day. Roenicke says Aoki takes the most pre-game swings by far among any of the Brewers – and it might be wearing him out. The skipper said he noticed some changes last weekend at Minnesota which showed that Aoki’s strong attention-to-detail at the plate might be slipping a little. He batted .346 from mid-May through June seventh – but since then, he has only hit .208 in 11 games. And Aoki went just 1-for-10 on Monday and Tuesday against Toronto. The Brewers are off today, and will open an Interleague series against the White Sox tomorrow night in Chicago.
Teams in the Class-“A” Midwest League are on the final day of their All-Star break. The second half of the season begins tomorrow night – and both Wisconsin teams will open on the road. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will start a series at Burlington, while the Beloit Snappers open the second half at Cedar Rapids. Both the Rattlers and the Snappers have nailed down two of the league’s eight playoff spots for September. Wisconsin won the first half West title, while Beloit earned the division’s Wild Card by finishing second.
In the Northwoods League, the La Crosse Loggers will go for their 12th straight win tonight, when they open a series at Wisconsin Rapids. La Crosse set a team record for consecutive victories last night, when they won at Battle Creek 8-3. The Loggers lead the South Division at 17-5, four games ahead of Green Bay and four-and-a-half up on third-place Wisconsin Rapids. Green Bay kept pace with a 3-2 win at Madison. Rapids was leading Eau Claire 5-2 in a game suspended by rain in the fifth inning. The two teams will finish that contest on July ninth. Green Bay hosts Eau Claire tonight. The Wisconsin Woodchucks open a series at Battle Creek, after the ‘Chucks won a 15-11 slug-fest over the Lakeshore Chinooks. The Chinooks remain at home in Mequon to face Madison. In the North Division, Mankato is now two games ahead of Waterloo. Waterloo has not had a chance to keep pace, since they’ve been washed out the last two nights at Thunder Bay. Those teams will play a pair of twin bills the next two nights. Also, Duluth plays at Mankato this evening. Saint Cloud is at Willmar. And Rochester is at Alexandria.
On the Champions’ Tour, Rhinelander native Dan Forsman is part of the field for the Montreal Championship. The three-round tournament begins tomorrow in Quebec.
Four players from Wisconsin have been named to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s All-America teams for the NCAA’s Division III. The doubles team of Jeff Lotz and Daneric Hazelman of Carthage was honored – along with Whitewater doubles’ partners Alexandra Bayliss and Kalla Schaefer. Schaefer was also named an All-American in singles’ play.
A son of four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux was among 170 players at a try-out camp this week for the junior league Green Bay Gamblers. 16-year-old forward Brendan Lemieux signed a U.S. Hockey League tender in February to play for the Gamblers, who recently won the league championship. He said the coaching staff is exceptional – and Lemieux believes that Green Bay is best place to play in the USHL. He’ll eventually play his college hockey at North Dakota.
A soccer player who won a league title with the now-defunct Milwaukee Rampage has returned to Wisconsin for his first college head coaching job. Daniel Popik was named this week as the new men’s soccer coach at UW-Green Bay. Popik spent last season as the associate head coach at Furman University, where his team went 14-4. He also held a similar position for two years at North Carolina State. Popik spent six years as a pro player, including three seasons with the Milwaukee Rampage when his team won the former “A”-League title in 2002.