Friday Evening State Sports Briefs: Green to start for Brewers at first baseWisconsin Sports
-- Taylor Green will start at first base for the Milwaukee Brewers tomorrow, when they host Oakland in their exhibition opener in Phoenix.
PHOENIX - Taylor Green will start at first base for the Milwaukee Brewers tomorrow, when they host Oakland in their exhibition opener in Phoenix.
Green is one of several candidates for the first base job that will be open until Corey Hart returns from knee surgery in May. Mat Gamel was supposed to be the fill-in – but he re-tore the ACL in his right knee last weekend, and he’s out for the year. Green, Alex Gonzalez, Bobby Crosby, and prospects Hunter Morris and Sean Halton are said to be the candidates that manager Ron Roenicke will consider for the temporary first base job. Roenicke says a lot of people will get auditions early in the Spring Training game schedule. Gonzalez is a veteran shortstop, but Roenicke said he worked out at first yesterday – and he looked quote, “outstanding for the first day.” Meanwhile, back in Milwaukee, fans are camped in the cold and snow outside of Miller Park. They’re the first in line to buy single game tickets tomorrow, when they go on sale during the Brewers’ annual “Arctic Tailgate” event.
The Milwaukee Brewers will play their one-and-only inter-squad game this afternoon at Spring Training in Phoenix. Manager Ron Roenicke says the contest will only last for about three innings – and the Brewer infielders will practice their bunting defense in the final frame. Right-handers Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada will start for their respective teams. They’re the top two pitchers in the regular season rotation, and four others are competing for three spots. Right-hander Mike Fiers will get his first audition tomorrow, when the Brewers open their Cactus League exhibition schedule against the Oakland A’s.
Two Wisconsin teams will be among the four squaring off for the Midwest Conference women’s basketball crown. Top-seeded Cornell of Iowa earned the right to host the event, after winning the regular season crown with a 17-1 record. Cornell will play Carroll of Waukesha tonight, after Number-two seed Monmouth takes on Saint Norbert in the opening game. Cornell comes in with a seven-game winning streak, and national rankings of 14th by the coaches and 15th by D3hoops.com. Saint Norbert and Carroll are third-and-fourth seeds. Tonight’s winners will go for the league tournament crown tomorrow.
Carthage of Kenosha has the top seed and hosting rights for the CCIW women’s basketball tourney. The semi-finals are set for tonight. Defending Division-Three champion Illinois Wesleyan has a third-seed this year, and play No. 2 Wheaton in the tournament opener. Carthage will then host Number-Four North Central. The winners go for the league title tomorrow. Carthage went 13-1 in the CCIW in the regular season, and the Lady Reds are 21-4 overall.
The No. 6 ranked University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team will close out its regular season with a series at Bemidji State tonight and tomorrow afternoon. The Badgers have already secured home-ice advantage for the first round of the WCHA playoffs next weekend. They’re 19-9-2 overall, and a win tonight would give coach Mark Johnson his 300th career victory, all with the Badger women. Bemidji State is 6-22-2 overall, after losing a pair to top-ranked Minnesota last weekend. Last October, Wisconsin split a home series with Bemidji. Badgers’ senior Brianna Decker needs two points this weekend to move into second place on the all-time career scoring list at the UW. Meghan Duggan is now in second with 238. The Badger men are at home against Penn State on Sunday and Monday nights.
The women’s O’Brien Cup playoffs begin tonight in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association. Eight teams will play two-game series’ tonight and tomorrow – and if they split, a mini-game will determine who moves on. Top-seeded UW-River Falls will host Eau Claire. Second-seeded Adrian is at home in Michigan against Stevens Point. Third-seeded Lake Forest entertains Saint Scholastica of Duluth. And Number-four Superior hosts Saint Norbert. The series’ winners will play in the semi-finals next weekend. Meanwhile, the NCHA men will resume their Peters’ Cup playoffs tomorrow with single-game eliminations. Top-seeded Eau Claire is at home against River Falls, and and Saint Norbert will host Saint Scholastica. The winners go for the league tournament title next weekend.
One-hundred-sixty boys’ high school basketball tournament games were scheduled to be played throughout Wisconsin tonight. But as of late morning, seven games were postponed due to the upper Midwest snowstorm. As of 11 o’clock this morning the following games were pushed back to tomorrow night – Green Bay Preble at De Pere, Kimberly at Green Bay Southwest, Waupaca at Hortonville, New London at Antigo, Winneconne at Peshtigo, Wisconsin Heights at Onalaska Luther, Alma/Pepin at Elmwood and Green Lake/Princeton at Potosi. Others were added onto the list as the day went on. Regional finals for all seven winners will be played on Monday night. Over 150 schools will be playing their second regional contests, after advancing on Tuesday night. The top-seeds in Divisions 1-4 will all be making their tournament debuts, after getting first-round byes. Four returning champions will also play their first tournament games this weekend – Germantown, Onalaska, Brillion, and Whitefish Bay Dominican.
J.J. Redick figures that he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks to help them get as high of a playoff seed as possible – and that’s exactly what he hopes to do. Redick, a seventh-year shooting guard out of Duke, was sent from Orlando just before yesterday’s NBA trade deadline. The Bucks hold the eighth-and-final Eastern Conference playoff spot, three-and-a-half games ahead of Philadelphia, and one-and-a-half behind Boston for the Number-seven spot. Bucks’ general manager John Hammond says a team cannot have too many good shooters, and Redick certainly fits the mold. He’s averaging just over 15 points a game this season, shooting a career-high 45-percent from the floor and just under 40-percent from three-point range. Redick says he’s not sure yet how he’ll try to fit in with Milwaukee’s current backcourt starters, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. He planned to appear in Milwaukee today. He and the other two players acquired in the Orlando trade must pass physicals before they can practice. The Bucks also obtained forward Gustavo Aron and guard Ish Smith, in exchange for guards Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih, and forward Tobias Harris.
Saint Norbert College of De Pere will host the Midwest Conference men’s basketball tournament tonight and tomorrow. Saint Norbert earned the top seed and the hosting rights by winning its third regular season title in the last four years. The Green Knights will host Ripon in the semi-finals. Grinnell has the second seed, and will play Carroll of Waukesha in the tournament opener. Grinnell has played the final half of its regular season without high-scoring Jack Taylor, the Black River Falls native who scored 138 points on November 20th but went out with an injury a few weeks later. Tonight’s winners will go for the Midwest tournament crown tomorrow afternoon.
The WIAC women’s basketball tournament resumes tonight, as the top four seeds are scheduled to square off in semi-final contests. Top-seeded UW-Whitewater is hosting No. 4 Superior. And second-seeded Oshkosh is at home against No. 3 Stevens Point. The Pointers and Superior won first-round games on Wednesday night, as Whitewater and Oshkosh had first-round byes. Tonight’s winners will go for the tournament title on Sunday.
Four University of Wisconsin football players are trying to make good impressions at this weekend’s NFL Scouting Combine. They are running back Montee Ball, linebacker Mike Taylor, offensive tackle Ricky Wagner, and center Travis Frederick. Both linemen spoke to reporters at the Indianapolis combine – and they explained how the line recovered from a rough start last season. They said the firing of offensive line coach Mark Markuson after two games was a real wake-up call – and the players started taking more responsibility after that. Wagner said the linemen got closer to each other than they had previously. And Frederick took a more vocal role on the field. Draft reviewers say Frederick could be a first-round pick in the April draft, while Wagner is projected to go somewhere in the middle of the seven-round draft.
Quarter-finals and consolation round matches are on the docket for today at the state high school individual wrestling tournament in Madison. Semi-final matches are set for tonight in three divisions. There were a couple of upsets on Day One. Isaac Nowak of Coleman, the only defending Division 3 champ to compete in the preliminary rounds, was pinned in his only match. And top-ranked Andres Marquez of Racine William Horlick lost in a quarterfinal decision to Cody Nannemann of Waterford, 10-0. Championship matches are set for tomorrow night at the UW-Madison Kohl Center.
The biggest Birkie ever will take place tomorrow in northwest Wisconsin. The 40th annual American Birkebeiner cross country ski races will have plenty of snow in the Cable and Hayward areas. And a record number of participants – over 13,000 – will compete in the 50-kilometer Birkie, the 23-kilometer Kortelopet, and the 12-K Prince Haakon race. Also, officials expect 15-thousand people to watch what’s become the largest Nordic ski event in North America, and the fourth-largest in the world. This is the first time in three years that the Birkie has lots of snow available. But director Ned Zuelsdorff says the event’s reputation has continued to grow. He’s retiring after tomorrow – and the numbers of participants have almost doubled during Zuelsdorff’s eight-year tenure.
The Milwaukee Admirals got crushed at Lake Erie last night, 7-1 in Cleveland. David van der Gulik had two goals and four points for the Monsters, who out-shot Milwaukee 39-23. Juuso Pustinen scored Milwaukee’s only goal almost seven minutes into the second period. The Admirals remain tied for third place in the American Hockey League’s Midwest Division with 52 points. They’ll play at Toronto tomorrow afternoon.
The WIAC indoor track meet is being held today and tomorrow in Stevens Point. UW-La Crosse is going for its 12th straight men’s title, while Oshkosh competes for its third consecutive women’s crown. Isaac Vasquez of La Crosse is trying to become only the second athlete in conference history to win three straight gold medals in the men’s long jump. Bill Patza from La Crosse won three golds in a row from 1980-through-’82. Vasquez is also the defending conference champ in the triple jump. On the women’s side, Christy Cazzola of Oshkosh is going for her third straight titles in both the 800-meters and the mile-run. She was also part of last year’s winning 16-hundred-meter relay team.
Monmouth College of Illinois has won both the men’s-and-women’s Midwest Conference indoor track meets for 11 years in a row. And both are trying to make it an even dozen today and tomorrow as they host the league meet. Carroll of Waukesha was the runner-up a year ago in both the men’s-and-women’s competitions. Megan O’Grady of Carroll will go for her second straight golds in both the three-thousand and five-thousand meters.
Carthage of Kenosha is hosting the CCIW indoor men’s and women’s meet today and tomorrow. Carthage has won more women’s titles than any other school, with five.