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WOELFEL: Rottino has high praise for Gamel

By Gery Woelfel
Journal Times
Monday, May 18, 2009 8:05 PM CDT

Count Vinny Rottino among those who envision a long and successful career for Mat Gamel, the Milwaukee Brewers’ newest hot-shot player.

Rottino, the former St. Catherine’s High School standout, was Gamel’s teammate last season at Nashville, the Brewers’ Class AAA team.

Rottino also saw Gamel’s game up close and personal when both played instructional ball together.

“He’s a good kid,” Rottino said of the 23-year-old Gamel, a left-handed hitter who batted .308 in five seasons in the minors. “He rakes. He rakes the cover off the ball.

“He’s not a big guy, but he’s got a real good swing. He’s got strong hands and drives the ball to all fields. He’s fun to watch.”

Rottino is Mr. Versatile

Rottino is playing for the Brewers’ Class AA Huntsville Stars of the Southern League.

The ever-versatile Rottino has played several positions for the Stars, but is now entrenched at first base.

“I had been moving all around, but I’m getting my at-bats,” said Rottino, who is batting .263. “I’m playing every day and I have to play to get back to the big leagues.”

Bucks face huge odds

The Milwaukee Bucks will be participating in Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery (7:30 on ESPN), although nobody should expect them to win it.

The Bucks have a whopping one percent chance of securing the top pick, which is expected to be Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin.

As such, the Bucks will more than likely remain in the 10th spot for the June 25th draft.

Talking about the Bucks ...

Perhaps the biggest blunder the Bucks organization made in the last decade was letting George Karl walk.

It was under Karl that the Bucks’ had their greatest moment in recent memory, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001.

While Karl’s last season (2002-2003) in Beer Town was a tumultuous and injury-plagued one, the Bucks still finished with a winning record at 42-40.

Karl’s current team, the Denver Nuggets, is in the Western Conference Finals after winning 54 games during the regular season.

Remarkably, it was the 17th straight season Karl’s teams didn’t have a losing record.

Drawing major attention

It was noted in this space several weeks ago how Washington State of the Pac-10 was interested in Racine Lutheran High School star running back Eric Oertel.

Well, let’s say the Cougars are now keenly interested in him.

Some Washington State football coaches recently came to Racine and have since offered Oertel a full scholarship.

Oetel has also been offered a free ride from Illinois State. Wisconsin has Oertel on its recruiting radar screen but has yet to offer him a scholarship.

Thumbs up

Congrats to Carthage College swimmer Bryan Pelka and UW-Whitewater baseball coach John Vodenlich.

Pelka recently received an NCAA post graduate scholarship. He was one of just 29 NCAA male athletes to receive one.

Pelka is a biology major with a 3.95 grade-point average.

Vodenlich, a Racine native and Case High graduate, was chosen the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

It was the third time in the last six years Vodenlich has received the award.

Talented young man

When Jack Schiestle found a spot for Mikole Pierce on his Kiwanis baseball roster a couple of years ago, he got some strange looks.

After all, Pierce was just a freshman at Union Grove High School.

But Pierce quickly proved he belonged, hitting a grand slam in his first plate appearance.

Pierce is now a junior at De Pere High School, and he’s still hitting the ball well. A shortstop, Pierce is batting .503.

He recently accepted a scholarship to Troy (Ala.) University, passing on offers from Arkansas, Ball State and Northwestern.

Gery Woelfel is a sports reporter for The Journal Times. Gery can be reached by calling (262) 634-3322, Ext. 322, or by e-mail at Gery’s “Woelfel World of Sports” blogs can be read at

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