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Wednesday - May 10, 2017 3:14 am

Boushley ready to take UW-L back to College World Series

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UW-L pitcher Caleb Boushley is 7-2 this season with a 1.58 ERA. UW-L pitcher Caleb Boushley is 7-2 this season with a 1.58 ERA. Jim Lund,

One of the ace's two losses this season came against a no-hitter.

It was an interesting way to start his final collegiate season. Caleb Boushley is the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse ace. He was an All-American as a junior and his coach said he's only gotten better this season.

The 6-foot-3 righty has been nearly unhittable. That was pretty much the case for the Hortonville, Wis., native on Opening Day for UW-L when he pitched a complete-game, five-hitter, striking out six and walking none. Boushley gave up just one earned run. That one run, however, was enough for his St. John's counterpart.

Nick Noack pitched a no-hitter, striking out seven and walking none. It would have been a perfect game except a fielding error with two outs allowed UW-L's Nate Heili to reach base.

It's the type of loss Boushley doesn't care to see now, though the postseason has a way of doing that sometimes.

But when Boushley is on the mound, losses are at a premium. He's 7-2 this season and 22-4 in his career, as he and the Eagles look to get back to the College World Series for the third consecutive season. UW-L lost in the championship in 2015 and went 1-2 last season - losing in the quarterfinals.

At 10 a.m. Friday, the Eagles (25-15, 11-9 WIAC) open the WIAC tournament against UW-Stevens Point (19-17, 11-9) - a team they went 3-1 against in back-to-back doubleheaders on April 28-29. The four-team tournament is hosted by WIAC champions, UW-Whitewater (32-6, 17-3), which will play UW-Oshkosh (22-18, 11-9) at 1 p.m.

Boushley has a 1.58 earned-run average, striking out 84 in 80 innings pitched with just 16 walks this season. He's given up 59 hits and teams are batting just .206 against him.

"His offspeed pitches, his secondary pitches have really progressed a lot," UW-L coach Chris Schwarz said. "Last year we used his changeup, kinda, sorta, sometimes. Now, this year, it's a really good pitch for him.

"He's also developed a second breaking ball that's a swing-and-miss pitch and he was missing that last year."

UW-L, which has won seven of eight heading into the playoffs, has played the 10th toughest schedule of all the Division III teams in the country - something Schwarz says has his team prepared for this postseason.

"Even earlier in Florida," Schwarz said of the difficult schedule where his team went 8-2. "So, gaining those at-bats against those really tough teams and tough pitchers, there isn't really anything that anybody's got that they can throw at us that's new."

The Eagles finished in a three-way tie for second in the WIAC this season behind UW-Whitewater, which is ranked third in Division III. The Eagles are unranked, as are the rest of the UW schools. 

Schwarz isn't worried about the rankings, however. Part of that is the aforementioned schedule he put his team through to be prepared for the postseason. The other part is having two of its top hitters out for a long stretch.

"The first half of the entire season we did not have Carter Hoffman (right) or Nick Pescheck," Schwarz said, "and those two players are leading our team in hitting right now."

He's right. They both sit on top of the stat sheet. Hoffman, a 6-foot senior outfielder, is hitting a ridiculous .426 and slugging .721 in 19 games this season. Pescheck, a sophomore infielder, is batting .365 in 18 games. 

If UW-L beats the Pointers, it will most likely face Whitewater, which swept the Eagles in a back-to-back doubleheader April 8-9 - and that included taking down Boushley. 

In that 4-1 loss, Boushley struck out nine and gave up seven hits and two walks in 8 innings. All four runs were earned, including giving up a two-run home run to make the score 4-0 in the fifth inning that all but sealed it.

Last modified on Wednesday - May 10, 2017 4:49 am
Rick Solem

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