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Milwaukee Baseball Announces Additions to 2009 Roster

MILWAUKEE – Head coach Scott Doffek has announced 11 more additions to the roster of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team for the upcoming season. The group brings the total number of newcomers for the 2009 season to 14 – one of the largest groups in recent memory.

Cameron Amsrud of Schofield, Wis., Lucas Annen of DeForest, Wis., Gregory Blohowiak of Green Bay, Wis., Nate Caldwell of Aurora, Ill., Kaleb Engelke of Mineral Point, Wis., Alex Erdman of Menomonee Falls, Wis., Nino Guerrero of Chicago, Ill., Nicholas Lingvay of Kenosha, Gabe Marshall of Jacksonville, Ill., Eric Meeusen of Racine, Wis., and Chad Pierce of Fond du Lac, Wis., have all signed with the Panthers for the upcoming year and are in school this fall.

Annen, Guerrero, Caldwell and Marshall are all junior college transfers, while Pierce is a transfer from the University of Arkansas and will have to sit out next year due to NCAA regulations. The other six are all freshmen who played high school baseball in the state of Wisconsin.

“We added 11 more incoming freshmen or JUCO transfers as well as one four-year college transfer, in addition to the three that we brought in during the early signing period,” Doffek said. “We feel it really rounds out what we think is a very good class. When you have a 33-man roster or so, bringing in 14 new guys is over a third of the team being brand new, so that is a lot of turnover. This group brings a lot of potential and we are happy to have all of them here.”

Amsrud was a three-year letterwinner at D.C. Everest High school, earning Honorable Mention All-Wisconsin Valley Conference honors as a senior despite being limited to just five games due to injury. He went 3-0 in his appearances, striking out 20 batters in 18 innings of work in recording a 1.12 ERA. That followed a junior campaign where he was named honorable mention all-state and first team all-district and all-conference. He went 8-2 on the mound, striking out 67 batters in 72 innings with a 1.25 ERA en route to Team MVP honors. He was at his best in the postseason, going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 21 innings.

“Cameron Amsrud is a right-handed pitcher who will possibly be a setup guy for us,” Doffek said. “He is a side-arm pitcher who has the ability to pound the strike zone. He is somebody that brings a lot of natural athleticism that he can build off of to the mound. We look for him to fight for bullpen innings this season.”

Annen comes to Milwaukee from Madison Area Technical College, where he led the team to a 39-18 overall record as a sophomore and its 18th-straight conference crown. He went 2-0 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 games, making four starts while earning the team’s most improved award. He worked 45.1 innings, striking out 34 while walking just 11. As a freshman, he went 3-0 in nine games, recording 13 strikeouts in 18.1 innings on the mound. That followed an all-conference career at DeForest High School. He lettered twice in a four-year career, earning All-Badger North Conference honors as a senior and a conference title as a junior.

“Lucas Annen is coming from a junior college where he had very good success,” Doffek said. “He is a three-pitch, location and command type of guy. He can throw all three pitches in any count and someone that matches up against quality lefties because of a plus-changeup. He could be a starter or bullpen guy for us – we are not sure at this point.”

Blohowiak was a four-year member of the baseball team at Green Bay West High School, lettering twice while appearing on the mound, in the infield and in the outfield. He served as team captain as a senior, earning honorable mention all-area honors as a utility player as well as Second Team All-Fox River Classic Conference as a utility player. He was tabbed for second team all-conference on the mound his junior season.

“Greg Blohowiak reminds me a little bit of [MLB pitcher] Tim Hudson,” Doffek said. “Kind of a drop-and-drive, arm speed guy with a power slider/cutter, upper 80’s. He is a righty that will be able to bring us a quality inning when we need one out of the bullpen.”

Caldwell comes to the Panthers from Kiswaukee College (Ill.) where he played for the Kougars in 2007 and 2008 and earned NJCAA Academic All-American honors. He recorded five victories as a sophomore, striking out 51 in 43.2 innings of work with a 4.33 ERA. As a freshman, he appeared in seven games, recording 22 K’s in 30.2 innings on the mound. That followed an all-conference career as Waubonsie Valley High School, earning Upstate Eight First Team All-Conference, Team MVP and Beacon News All-Area First Team honors as a senior when he led his team to the regional championship. At the plate, his 45 hits were sixth-most in a season in school history. As a junior, he was honorable mention all-conference, leading team to a 29-12 record and regional, sectional and conference titles.

“Nate Caldwell is one of the guys that have really impressed us early on,” Doffek said. “He throws upper 80’s to lower 90’s with a power breaking ball. His pitches have natural down angle. He has been a pleasure to this point and we look for him to make a big impact.”

Engelke was named the MVP of the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League Conference while also being named Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-State Honorable Mention as a senior utility player at Mineral Point High School. He earned first team all-conference honors as both a junior and senior and was also selected as the Team MVP each season. In the classroom, he was an All-Academic All-District selection as a junior. On the mound, he went 17-6 in his career, striking out 226 batters in 171.1 innings (11.9/K per 9 innings) and a 2.17 ERA. He was a perfect 8-0 in 10 starts as a senior, fanning 122 in 67 innings while recording a 1.43 ERA. At the plate, he batted .342 in 66 career games. He scored 53 runs and had 21 doubles, five home runs, drove in 50 runs and stole 30 bases. As a senior, he had a .400 average, scoring 21 times and knocking in 22 runs in 21 games.

“Kaleb Engelke is a left-handed pitcher who is still going to physically develop,” Doffek said. “He had outstanding high school numbers and I think he is going to be one of those lefties that just wins in college. He is a low to mid-80’s, spot-up command type lefty that will be a quality addition to our pitching staff.”

Erdman, an all-state first team selection, was named a member of the All-Division 2008 Greater Metro All-Conference Team as an infielder, named GMC Co-Player of the Year and tabbed for the 2008 WBCA All-Star East Squad. As a senior, he led his Menomonee Falls High School team to a 27-11 record by hitting .604, going 52-for-86 on the season with five home runs and 38 runs batted in. He also added seven doubles and three triples and scored 12 runs. On the mound, he went 4-2 in 43.2 innings, striking out 36 batters. That followed a junior campaign where he was named 2007 Greater Metro All-Conference All-Division as a pitcher and to the North Division squad as an infielder. He was also honored as a 2007 WBCA Second Team All-District infielder.

“Alex Erdman is a very athletic guy that we will use in the middle infield,” Doffek said. “We could slide him into the outfield if we need to as well. He had a lot of success in high school. He was a four-year starter at quarterback for the football team, so we are dealing with that kind of athlete that brings a great mentality. He is a very versatile player that builds off his athleticism.”

Guerrero comes to UWM after two seasons at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill. He was a team captain as a sophomore, leading the Cyclones with 10 doubles while batting close to .500 the second half of the season. He knocked in 36 runs on the year, slugged .406 and recorded a .456 on-base percentage. That followed an all-conference high school career at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, earning all-city honors as a senior. He batted over .400 his final season, earning the team’s “Best Offensive Player” award.

“Nino Guerrero comes from a junior college outside of Chicago,” Doffek said. “He is a gritty outfielder that brings a dimension of speed to our team, with the potential to be a gap-to-gap type of hitter. He plays with a lot of energy and spark and will give us added depth in the outfield.”

Lingvay was a 2008 WBCA Second Team All-State infielder at Kenosha Tremper, helping his team to a Southeast Conference Championship while earning league player of the year honors as a senior. He batted .456 in 22 games as a senior, driving in 25 runs while adding eight doubles and stealing nine bases. He also recorded a .560 on-base percentage and .691 slugging percentage while scoring 18 runs. That followed a junior campaign in which he batted .408 in 21 games. He also pitched, going 3-2 with five saves and 33 strikeouts in 28.2 innings on the mound in his career. Lingvay boasted a .431 high school batting average and was named a 2008 WBCA All-Star (East Squad), 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel All-Area Team and to the 2008 WBCA All-State Academic Team. He earned First Team All-Southeast Conference honors as a senior and junior and second team honors as a sophomore. The two-year team captain was also tabbed for the First Team All-Kenosha County squad three times.

“Nick Lingvay is a savvy middle infielder and a very heady player,” Doffek said. “He has played with the Racine Hitters [a premier team that plays throughout the United States], so he has been playing against some of the top competition in the country. He has seen a lot of good baseball and you can already tell this fall that he has been able to step right in and compete. I look for Nick to make an impact all four years here.”

Marshall was teammates with Caldwell at Kishwaukee College (Ill.), appearing in 49 games and posting totals of 47 strikeouts, 57.1 innings, a 3.45 ERA and a 4-4 record while earning all-region honors on the mound and all-conference honors at pitcher and in the outfield (he batted .328 with 23 RBI). A four-year letterwinner at Jacksonville High School, he graduated with school records for wins, innings pitched, triples and grand slams while finishing second in strikeouts and doubles. The all-conference selection led the Central State Eight in strikeouts in 2005 and 2006.

“Gabe Marshall is a very good athlete who happens to be a pitcher,” Doffek said. “He is a three/four pitch guy with a quality changeup. He will bring a great mentality to the mound and could also give us another left-handed bat off the bench.”

Meeusen was named to the Southeast Conference Honorable Mention All-Conference team as a senior. The two-year letterwinner at Racine Park High School batted .333 and went 3-0 on the mound with a 1.55 ERA, recording 46 strikeouts in 31 innings of work. He also spent a summer with the Racine Hitters Premier team, going 3-3 in eight games, posting a 2.08 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 40.1 innings of work.

“Eric Meeusen is a tall, lanky kid with a pitcher’s frame,” Doffek said. “He is a down-angle guy in the mid-80’s, but we definitely see him taking another step as his body matures.”

Pierce is a transfer from the University of Arkansas who will have to sit out a year due to NCAA regulations. He appeared in 13 games in his two seasons at Arkansas, going 1-0 with 12 strikeouts in 13.2 innings of work while earning SEC All-Academic honors. That followed a stellar high school career where he was named the No. 5 pro prospect in the state of Wisconsin by Baseball America. He earned Wisconsin Coaches Association All-State, all-district and Fox Valley Athletics All-Conference honors three times at Fond du Lac High School. As a senior, batted .362 with three doubles, a home run and 11 runs batted in while earning District 4 Player of the Year honors. He also posted a 7-3 record on the mound with a 1.89 ERA, two saves and 58 strikeouts in 44.1 innings. Pierce batted .322 and went 7-2 with a 1.03 ERA as a junior en route to his first district player of the year award. That followed a sophomore campaign that saw him post a .542 average.

“Chad Pierce was one of the most highly-touted recruits in the state three years ago coming out of Fond du Lac High School,” Doffek said. “Arkansas signed him and he has been down there for two years. Now, he wants to come home and we are happy to have him even though he has to sit out a year. He is going to be someone that, a year from now, will be a factor in the Horizon League. We are going to take him back to his true calling which is catching [Pierce pitched his two years at Arkansas].”

The 11 players join last November’s NLI-signees Paul Hoenecke of West Bend, Wis., Jake Long of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., and Kyle Schmidt of Madison, Wis., to make up the 14-member group that will look to make a name for themselves in a Panther uniform. UWM is coming off a 2008 campaign where it made it to the championship game of the Horizon League Tournament, coming just one game away from a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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