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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Braun homers in his first at-bat as Brewers win exhibition opener

PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun homered in his first at-bat yesterday, as the Milwaukee Brewers crushed Oakland 11-to-3 in their exhibition opener in Phoenix. Braun belted an 0-1 pitch from Tommy Milone high over the fence in the left-field corner. It was the 2011 M-V-P's first at-bat since his 65-game drug suspension last year. Braun didn't make a big deal of his homer, saying it was only the first game of Spring Training and he'd rather hit the ball hard than strike out. He said his goal was to make gradual progress as he prepares for the season. There were a few jeers among the spectators, but most cheered Braun. Juan Francisco homered twice. Brewers' starter Marco Estrada gave up two runs in the first inning on a pair of hits and two walks -- but he settled down for a perfect second frame. Yovani Gallardo is scheduled to start this afternoon, when the Brewers play San Francisco in Scottsdale Arizona.

The Milwaukee Bucks have still not won back-to-back games this season, after losing at Indiana last night 101-96. The Bucks came back from 17 points down in the first half to tie it at the break. Milwaukee went up by six early in the second half. But Indiana went on a 7-2 run to take the lead for good at 67-66 -- and the Bucks could not get closer than two points the rest of the way. Brandon Knight scored 23 points and Khris Middleton had 22, as Milwaukee fell to an NBA-worst 11-and-46. Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds for Indiana, which improved to a league-best 28-and-3 at home. The Pacers continue to have the N-B-A's best overall mark at 44-and-13. Milwaukee's next game is tomorrow night at home against Brooklyn.

 ________________Racine native Caron Butler left the Bucks for good yesterday, after the team agreed to buy out his contract. He joined several other N-B-A players in negotiating buy-outs, with the hopes of joining a playoff contender. Miami and Oklahoma City are reported to be interested in the 33-year-old Butler. We won't know for sure until after tomorrow, when Butler is expected to clear waivers. Bucks' general manager John Hammond said there's no doubt that Butler is capable of helping a team make a deep playoff run. Coach Larry Drew said he appreciated Butler's professionalism, noting he embraced each of his Milwaukee teammates. He'll have a chance at a second N-B-A title, after winning a ring with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. He was out with injuries during that playoff run. Newly-acquired Jeff Adrien now becomes the main backup at power forward for Milwaukee behind Ersan Ilyasova.

The Marquette men's basketball team kept its N-C-A-A Tournament hopes alive with a 75-to-73 home victory over Georgetown last night. The Hoyas missed two lay-ups in the final 15 seconds, as the Golden Eagles won their fifth game in their last six. Marquette coach Buzz Williams says he's proud of the way his team has played itself back into N-C-A-A contention. Jake Thomas scored a career-high 22 points, and Davante Gardner had 26 points and seven rebounds as Marquette improved to 9-and-6 in the Big East and 17-and-11 overall. Markel Starks scored 24 for Georgetown, which fell to 7-and-9 in the conference and 16-and-12 overall. Marquette's next game is on Sunday at Number-eight Villanova. __________________

The U-W Green Bay men won the Horizon League regular season title out-right with a 71-to-63 victory at Oakland last night. The Phoenix trailed by 15 early in the second half, before they proceeded to shoot a blistering 65-percent in the final 20 minutes. Keifer Sykes made a basket to put Green Bay in front for good with 10:27 left, and the Phoenix led by as many as 10 the rest of the way. Center Alec Brown led U-W-G-B with 18 points. Sykes and Jordan Fouse each had 16, as the Phoenix improved to 13-and-2 in the conference and 23-and-5 overall. Duke Mondy had 17 for Oakland, which dropped to 6-and-9 in their first season in the Horizon League, and 11-and-19 overall with their most losses since 2005. Green Bay has a two-game lead over Cleveland State with one regular season contest left. They'll play it on Sunday at Detroit. ___________________

The U-W Milwaukee men earned a home game in next week's Horizon League tournament, after winning at Detroit in their regular season finale last night 68-to-62. The Panthers led by eight points early in the second half, but Detroit came back to tie it at 49. It was tied at 60 with 2:15 left when Malcolm Moore made a follow-up basket, and Austin Ariens gave Milwaukee a five-point edge and breathing room with a three-pointer with 1:27 left. JeVon Lyle scored a career-high 20 points, as Milwaukee improved to 7-and-9 in the Horizon League and 17-and-13 overall. Jarod Williams scored 12 for Detroit, which dropped to 6-and-9 in the league and 13-and-17 overall. ___________________

The U-W Green Bay women regained sole possession of first place in the Horizon League with a 79-to-72 overtime win at Wright State. The Phoenix started the evening in a three-way tie for the lead the Wright State and Youngstown State. But Youngstown lost to Illinois-Chicago, putting Green Bay back atop the standings by itself at 10-and-3. The Phoenix never trailed in last night's overtime, as Breanna Ranger opened the scoring with a lay-up. Kaili Lukan scored G-B's next four points to give the Phoenix a four-point lead, and they hung on from there. Mehryn Kraker had 19 points and seven rebounds for U-W Green Bay, which improved to 17-and-8 overall. Kim Demmings and Ivory James each scored 20 for Wright State, which dropped to 9-and-4 in the conference and and 20-and-8 overall. The Phoenix will play at Valparaiso tomorrow. ____________________The Number-One seed was eliminated last night in the semi-finals of the W-I-A-C women's basketball tournament. Top-seed U-W Whitewater fell at home to Number-five Superior 84-to-63. The Warhawks were out-shot 58-to-32 percent, and were out-rebounded 40-34. Sally Linzmeier had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists to help Superior advance to tomorrow night's title game against second-seeded U-W Oshkosh. The Titans advanced with a 68-to-44 home victory over Stevens Point. Oshkosh out-shot the Pointers 49-to-35 percent. Katelyn Kuehl led Oshkosh with 17 points and five assists. _____________________

A judge in New Orleans issued an arrest warrant yesterday for former Green Bay Packers' safety Darren Sharper and another man, on allegations that they raped two women last year. The 38-year-old Sharper and 26-year-old Erik Nunez each face two counts of aggravated raped. Officials said the women were assaulted at the same place last September 23rd. Sharper has also pleaded innocent to rape charges in Los Angeles -- and he's under investigation for reported sexual assaults in Florida, Nevada, and Arizona. He played 14 years in the N-F-L, and made the Super Bowl in his rookie season with the Packers in 1997. Sharper also won a Super Bowl ring with New Orleans, made the Pro Bowl five times, and was an N-F-L All-Pro six times. He was an analyst for the N-F-L Network when he was first arrested a few weeks ago, and was suspended from that job indefinitely. ______________________ The W-I-A-A state high school individual wrestling tournament goes into its second day in Madison. Seven of the eight undefeated wrestlers in Division-One advanced in last night's quarter-finals. The only one who didn't was Isaac Simar of Kenosha Indian Trail, who fell to David Pophal of Merrill 5-to-4. Seven former champions returned in Division-One, and six returning titlists are back in both Divisions-Two-and-Three. Three returning champs in the lower two divisions who did not have byes advanced to today's quarter-finals. Semi-finals in all three divisions are slated for tonight, with title matches in 14 weight classes tomorrow at U-W Madison's Kohl Center.  ____________________

The Wisconsin men's swim team is in sixth place after two days of competition in the Big Ten meet at Michigan. The host Wolverines have the lead with 308 points. The Badgers have 118. Junior Nick Caldwell had Wisconsin's best showing yesterday. He placed fourth in the 500-yard freestyle.


The U-W Milwaukee women dropped to second place after Day-Two of the Horizon League swim meet at Cleveland. Oakland is in first with 319 points, followed by two-time defending champion Milwaukee with 291. U-W Green Bay is third with 200. Natalie Johnson of U-W-M set a conference meet record in the 500-freestyle with a time of 4:51-point-81. Milwaukee's Emily McClellan won the 200-individual medley, and the Panthers' Anna Yontz took the women's 50-yard freestyle. On the men's side, Oakland leads with 327 points after the second day. Milwaukee is fourth, and Green Bay sixth.


In golf, Pewaukee native Mark Wilson is tied for 11th after the opening round of the P-G-A's Honda Classic. Wilson shot a three-under-par 67 yesterday at the P-G-A National course in Palm Beach Gardens Florida. He's four strokes behind the leader, Rory McIlroy. Jerry Kelly of Madison is tied for 81st place, after shooting a one-over-par 71.


Waukesha native Gwen Jorgensen was named yesterday as the Olympic-International Triathlon Union's athlete-of-the-year. Jorgensen, a former standout at U-W Madison, became the first American woman to win a World Triathlon Series event in San Diego last April, when she sprinted to the finish. After that victory, she was named the U-S-A Triathlon Elite national champion. Jorgensen now lives in Saint Paul.


Wisconsin junior Brittany Ammerman is one of 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier award as the nation's best women's college hockey player. She leads the second-ranked Badgers in scoring with 22 goals and 17 assists -- and she's 17th nationally in total scoring. Madison area native Amanda Kessel of the University of Minnesota won the Kazmaier award a year ago. Three remaining candidates for this year's award will be announced next Thursday.