Kieston Greene’s big week not enough as Raiders drop series to Milwaukee
There’s no place quite like home for the Wright State baseball team.
After clobbering Wilmington 25-0 at Nischwitz Stadium Tuesday, the Raiders (6-11, 1-2) dropped a weekend home series to Horizon League foe Milwaukee. Losing two of three games to the Panthers isn’t a promising start to conference play, but it’s a step towards breaking out of their recent slump.
WSU opened their series against Milwaukee with a double-header Friday. The Panthers won the first game 4-1 behind a dominant performance from starter Jake Long, who limited the Raiders to four hits and pitched a complete game. But the tides turned during a rainy nightcap.
While Long stymied the Raiders during the first game, the bats awoke for game two. A two-run homer by right fielder Kieston Greene propelled WSU to a 9-3 win. WSU notched 12 hits on the night, including multi-hit games from Greene (2-4), center fielder Mark Fowler (2-4, RBI) and third baseman Michael Timm (3-4, 2 RBI). On the mound, starter Casey Henn pitched seven strong innings of one run ball to earn the victory.
Inclement weather pushed the rubber match up to Saturday afternoon, and Milwaukee capitalized by pounding the Raiders 15-2. Panther starter Mike Schneider shutdown WSU for 6.2 innings (one run, five hits) while the offense surged behind designated hitter Drew Pearson (2-5, 4 RBI), catcher Will Fadness (2-4, 4 RBI) and second baseman Michael Porcaro (4-4, 2 RBI). The loss marked a low point in a week where the Raiders began to find new life.
Led by junior college transfer Greene, the Raiders went 2-2 on the week. Greene earned the Horizon League batter of the week award after hitting .500 with 3 HR, 7 RBI. During Tuesday’s blowout win over Wilmington, Greene hit 2 homers and knocked in three runs.
Greene’s award and the two wins may prove a turning point for the team. Two straight road sweeps earlier in the season to Clemson and UCLA dulled momentum around the Raiders, who started the season 3-0 behind projections of another conference championship. The losses were part of a 1-9 stretch for the Raiders. But since returning to Fairborn for their current 17 game home stand, the team is gaining steam.
As the Raiders move deeper into conference play this weekend with a series against Valparaiso, the key will be finding consistent pitching and bottom of the order hitting.
Their team ERA stands at 5.45—over a run higher than their opponents. While Tanner Howell (0.00 ERA), David Deliz (1.69 ERA) and Travis Hissong (2.53 ERA) form a solid bullpen trio, the problem lies in the rotation. Only Casey Henn (3.52 ERA) has strung together multiple quality starts. For the Raiders to shutdown the big bats in the Horizon League, they need starter Taylor Braun (7.66 ERA) to return to form and find a reliable third option.
At the plate, Fowler (.387) and second baseman Sam Picchiotti (.333) bat first and second in an offense struggling to find consistency elsewhere in the order. If manager Rob Cooper can find reliable hitting from top to bottom in the lineup, the Raiders have the tools to make a run.