Monday State Sports Briefs: Bielema pleased with Ball's first practice with UW gridsWisconsin Sports
-- University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema said running back Montee Ball looked “crisp” this morning, as the Badgers’ preseason camp entered its second week.
MADISON - University of Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema said running back Montee Ball looked “crisp” this morning, as the Badgers’ preseason camp entered its second week.
It was the first full workout that reporters could watch – and Ball had limited contact. He said yesterday that he felt back to normal, after being attacked in Madison by five men on August first. Defensive tackle Beau Allen was held out the Badgers’ team drills with a bad ankle, and receiver Chase Hammond missed the entire practice due to a concussion. Linebacker Mike Taylor did not work out either, after having hip surgery earlier this year. But Bielema said Taylor would practice with the team tonight. The coach said the team would have a more stringent workout this evening in full pads. The Badgers are getting ready for their season opener on Sept. 1 in Madison against Northern Iowa.
University of Wisconsin middle linebacker Derek Watt has been moved to the offense. Coach Bret Bielema said at yesterday’s Badger Media Day that Watt could provide a spark at the fullback spot that the team does not have now. Watt was a both a linebacker and a running back at Pewaukee High School. He ran for 2,685 yards with another 625 receiving yards in high school, while scoring a combined 48 touchdowns. He was competing for the Badgers’ Number-two spot at middle linebacker. The Badgers have three other fullbacks – converted tight end Sherard Cadogan, and freshman walk-ons Kevin MacCudden and Derek Strauss. Also, Bielema said freshman Darius Hillary has been moved from safety to corner. And the coach said sophomore quarterback Joe Brennan is considering a transfer. Brennan has moved down the depth chart after being the No. 2 signal caller this past spring.
The Milwaukee Brewers will go for their second straight road victory tonight when they play the Colorado Rockies in Denver. The Brewers ended an 11-game losing string away from Miller Park yesterday, when they deprived the lowly Houston Astros of their first series sweep since May. Now, the Brewers face the National League’s second-worst team. The Rockies are 30 games below .500, and they’re the only other NL team besides the Astros not to win 40-percent of its games this season. Colorado has lost three straight at home, and 10-of-its-last-11. The Rockies’ starters are 0-8 in those games – and their bullpen gave up five runs in the eighth inning yesterday when they lost at San Francisco 9-6. Milwaukee leads the league with 22 blown saves. And they had lost 15-of-their-last-18 at Coors Field before winning their last two a year ago.
The Brewers put starter Mark Rogers on paternity leave today, and his roster spot will be filled for the next couple days by infielder Jeff Bianchi. Rogers’ wife Kerrie is expecting the couple’s first child any time. And the Brewers say the right-hander is due back on Wednesday, when he’s scheduled to make his next start against the Rockies in Colorado. In the meantime, the Brewers appear to have a need for Bianchi – especially after starting shortstop Jean Segura got hurt yesterday at home plate in Milwaukee’s win at Houston. This is Bianchi’s second stint with the Brew Crew. He was with the team from July 12th-through-26th. But he was sent back down to Triple-“A” after he failed to get a hit during that time. He made three starts at short.
Mike Fiers will try to win his fourth straight start tonight, when the Brewers play the Rockies in Colorado. Fiers is 6-4 with a stingy ERA of just 1.80. He took a perfect game into the seventh inning last Tuesday, when the Brewers topped Cincinnati at home, 3-1. The Rockies will send southpaw Jeff Francis to the mound tonight. He’s 3-4 with an ERA of 6.06. Francis has given up seven homers in his last 22-and-two-thirds innings, and has gone 1-2 in his last five outings. Last Wednesday, he gave up a three-run homer while going four innings in a 6-4 Rockies’ loss to the LA Dodgers. Colorado is 41-71, and has lost 10-of-its-last-11 at home. The Brewers are 52-61, and they’ve dropped 11-of-12 on the road.
In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will close out their home series with division-leading Clinton tonight. The Rattlers are coming off a 9-4 loss yesterday. The Beloit Snappers will wrap up their home set against Peoria, after a 6-5 victory on Sunday. There’s one matinee in the Midwest League today. West Michigan hosts Bowling Green in a noon start. The rest of the action is under the lights. Burlington plays at Quad Cities. Kane County is at Cedar Rapids. Dayton hosts Fort Wayne. Lansing is at Great Lakes. And Lake County plays at South Bend. Clinton now has a four-game lead in the Western Division over Beloit, Burlington, and Kane County. Bowling Green leads the East by a game over both Fort Wayne and Lansing.
Jack Fischer of the Wisconsin Woodchucks has been named the Pitcher-of-the-Year in the Northwoods League. Outfielder Ben Moore of Alexandria is the league MVP. Andy McKay of the La Crosse Loggers is the Manager-of-the-Year, and the Loggers’ Joe Potulny is the Coach-of-the-Year. The summer league of top college players handed out its post-season awards yesterday, the final day of the regular season. Fischer, a sophomore right-hander at Wake Forest, went 6-1 for the Woodchucks with a league-best 1.76 ERA. He threw 20 consecutive scoreless innings in his final three starts without giving up an earned run. McKay led La Crosse to the second-best overall record in league history at 49-21, and Potulny is McKay’s long-time assistant. Also, four Loggers made the Northwoods post-season All-Star Team, the most in the South Division. They are shortstop Matt Chapman, outfielder Richard Prigatano, and pitchers Jacob Dorris and Jake Stassi. Jack Fischer was one of three Woodchucks named as All-Stars, along with catcher Nate Irving and outfielder Eric Filia-Snyder. Three Lakeshore Chinooks were honored in the team’s inaugural season – third baseman Bre Kimball, pitcher Ryan Harris, and designated hitter Eric Aguilera. Also named as All-Stars were Eau Claire first baseman Casey Gillaspie, Wisconsin Rapids second baseman Pat Kelly, Madison outfielder Tyler Marincov, and Green Bay pitcher Bryce Bellin. The Northwoods League also named Lakeshore’s Kapco Park as having the best playing surface. And Doug Raftery of Eau Claire and Michael Broskowski of Rochester were honored as the co-Play-by-Play announcers of the year.
The playoffs begin tonight in the Northwoods League, after the regular season was completed yesterday. In the South Division, the second-half champion Wisconsin Woodchucks will host the first-half champion La Crosse Loggers in Game-One. In the North, Mankato will play at Willmar – which wrapped up its second-half title during the weekend. Both series are best-of-three, and La Crosse and Mankato will host a potential third game because they had the best overall season records. La Crosse finished 49-21, the second-best in Northwoods history. Wisconsin is making its second playoff appearance in the last three years. The Woodchucks finished second for the year at 43-27. Madison was third, followed by Lakeshore, Green Bay, Wisconsin Rapids, Battle Creek, and Eau Claire.
Green Bay Packers’ fullback John Kuhn sprained an ankle at practice today. There was no immediate word on the extent of it. The injury came near the end of the mid-day workout. Running back Cedric Benson practiced with the team after he signed a one-year contract yesterday. But under the collective bargaining agreement, he cannot practice in full pads for his first two days – and with no practice Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy said Benson would not play in Thursday night’s Packer home exhibition opener against Cleveland. McCarthy called Benson’s signing a “good fit.” The coach said Benson has experience in a one-back system, and that’s pretty much what the Green Bay offense has evolved to. Also, McCarthy said he hoped that left tackle Marshall Newhouse would be ready to play on Thursday night. He’s been out for eight days with a concussion.
The Packers were scheduled to return to practice late this morning, as they get ready for their home exhibition opener on Thursday night against Cleveland. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse could return, after being out since August fifth with a concussion. Coach Mike McCarthy has been looking at a number of substitutes in the Number-One offense – and he cautioned reporters against reading too much into who’s playing in which units at the moment. That’s because an unusually-high number of players are out with injuries. Nineteen Packers missed yesterday’s practice. Rookie Andrew Datko practiced with the Number-One offense at left tackle last night. Reggie Wells, who signed with the Pack last week, has also had a few plays with the top unit. Veteran Herb Taylor started in Newhouse’s place during last Thursday’s exhibition loss at San Diego.
Milwaukee Bucks' forward Carlos Delfino is coming home without an Olympic gold medal. His native Argentina lost the bronze medal basketball game to Russia 81-77 on yesterday's final day of the London Games. Delfino was the only Argentine to play all 40 minutes in his final contest -- and he had 15 points, six rebounds, and one assist. Delfino made of all but one of his six free throws -- but he shot only 2-of-9 from three-point-range, and he committed three of Argentina's 12 turnovers. Team USA won its second straight Olympic gold medal, with a 107-100 victory over Spain.
In the Midwest League…
Beloit 6, Peoria 5
Clinton 9, Wisconsin 4
Kane County 9, Cedar Rapids 5
Burlington 4, Quad Cities 3
West Michigan 3, Bowling Green 2
Lansing 10, Great Lakes 6
Dayton 5, Fort Wayne 4
Lake County 10, South Bend 6
In the final day of the Northwoods League regular season…
Wisconsin 11, Madison 10 in 10 innings
Green Bay 12, La Crosse 3
Eau Claire 9, Battle Creek 1
Wisconsin Rapids 4, Lakeshore 3
Alexandria 5, Duluth 4
Rochester 6, Saint Cloud 0
Mankato at Waterloo, canceled due to rain
Thunder Bay at Willmar, canceled due to rain