While many students were away from campus during spring break, the baseball boys were busy beginning their season on a high note. After splitting the spring break period between Tucson, Arizona and Claremont, California, the team returns to campus with an 8-4 record so far this season.
The Cardinals began their season on March 8 by defeating Carroll University 11-0 in seven innings, due to a 10-run mercy rule. Nick Cooney ’15 struck out 12 Carroll hitters, while allowing only one hit and three walks over six innings pitched. Cooney struck out at least two batters in five of his six innings on the mound, and finished the day by striking out the side in the 6th.
On offense, Wesleyan collected 11 hits, led by Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15, who went 2-3, including three RBIs. One of three players who collected two hits on the day, Goodwin-Boyd drove in two runs with a 3rd-inning double, and collected another RBI when he took a walk with the bases loaded as part of a six-run 6th inning.
Joining Goodwin-Boyd, Donnie Cimino ’15 and Guy Davidson ’16 collected two hits apiece for Wesleyan. The squad entered the bottom of the 6th leading 5-0, when four Cardinals reached base and Carroll players committed two errors, leading to six additional runs for the Redbirds. Leading 11-0 in the 7th, Asher Young ’17 shut the door on Carroll, picking up two strikeouts along the way and securing the first win of the season for the nationally ranked Cardinals.
The following day, the Cardinals shut out Carroll again by a score of 5-0. Sammy Elias ’15 began his season with a lights-out performance on the mound, going seven innings and allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out eight batters. Wilson Flower ’16 and Peter Rantz ’16 pitched an inning apiece to finish the shutout effort by the Cardinals. Wesleyan recorded nine hits on the day, including two each from Davidson and Andrew Yin ’15. After scoring two runs in the first, Wesleyan added three more runs in the fourth to give Elias more than enough run support.
In the second game of the day, the Cardinals came to life in the batter’s box. Collecting 20 hits, Wesleyan defeated Cornell College (IA) 18-2. Gavin Pittore ’17 made another valiant effort on the mound, pitching five shutout innings, allowing just four hits and a walk, and collecting five strikeouts. Jon Dennett ’15, Jordan Farber ’16, and Cimino collected three hits apiece on the day, while four additional Cardinals recorded two hits each. Dennett drove in four runs for Wesleyan, while Cimino collected three RBIs as well.
The Cardinals then took on Simpson College on Wednesday, March 11. Davidson led the way for the Birds, collecting two hits, including a two-run home run in the third inning that broke a 3-3 tie and ultimately propelled the Cardinals to a 6-4 victory. Goodwin-Boyd also added a home run in the 7th inning that gave the Cardinals a late insurance run. Nick Miceli ’17 pitched a one-two-three ninth to record the save.
Two days later, the Cardinals improved to 5-0 on the year with an 8-4 victory over California Lutheran University, the fifth-ranked team in the country. Leadoff hitter Ellis Schaefer ’17 paced the Cardinals, collecting three hits in four trips to the plate, while scoring twice and driving in two. The squad opened up an early lead on Cal Lutheran, scoring seven runs in four innings. Cooney allowed only three hits and one earned run in six innings in his second outing of the season.
The following day, the Cardinals took on Bethany Lutheran College in double-header action. Picking up three hits, Donnie Cimino moved into sole possession of first place on Wesleyan’s all-time hits list, breaking the previous record of 189. Cimino broke the record in the fifth inning of the second game with a single to right field during Wesleyan’s first loss of the season.
On Sunday, March 15, the Cardinals played Linfield, a top-25 ranked team. They collected 7 hits but couldn’t muster more than two runs. Ultimately the squad fell 6-2, for just their second loss of the season.
After a day off, the Cardinals took part in a double-header against Southwestern College. Jon Dennett ’15 collected his 100th career hit as a Cardinal during a five-run 2nd inning of the first game. The Cardinals fell in the nightcap, by a score of 6-3, marking their final game in Tucson.
In Claremont, California, Wesleyan took on Pomona in doubleheader action on Friday, March 20. In the opener, the Cardinals fell 9-6. They had a brief lead of 3-2 in the top of the 5th inning before Nick Cooney allowed six runs in the bottom of the inning, putting the Cardinals behind for good. In the ninth, a rally fell short despite a three-run home run by Goodwin-Boyd.
In the nightcap, Wesleyan outhit the opponents 11-7, took a first inning lead, and never looked back. Davidson added a three-run homer in the third inning, his third home run of the year. Goodwin-Boyd collected four hits on the day, while driving in five runs. Yin also added four hits on the day.
Before the rest of the season commences, the Argus took some time to catch up with Cardinal leadoff hitter Schaefer.
The Argus: You guys are coming off a terrific season, so expectations must be high for the team. What are your goals for the upcoming season? What are your strengths that will lead you there, and what are your weaknesses that you must improve to get there?
Ellis Schaefer: Coming off last year, our goal for this year is to improve every game and compete for the national championship at the end of the year. We believe we have the talent to play with any team. The important thing for us is to focus on every game no matter who the opponent is.
A: With such a large senior class, how do you view the importance of leadership for younger members of the team? What do you to be a leader?
ES: We believe that it is important for everyone on the team to be leader. Before every game Coach Woodworth has a different [class] do the pregame speech, allowing everybody on the team to get the chance to step up and be a leader.
A: Can you comment on the significance of Donnie Cimino’s hit record? What does it mean to the team?
ES: Obviously, seeing Donnie break the hit record earlier this year was exciting for everyone, and its a testament to the amazing career he’s had here. Having players like that makes us confident that we can have a special year this season.
A: Which younger, unheralded players do you think can surprise and play a big role on the team this year?
ES: One of the real strengths of our team is our depth. We have a lot of guys have the ability to make big contributions for the team even if they haven’t had a chance to yet. Ethan Rode, Asher Young, and Will O’Sullivan are three sophomores who could definitely step up and play big roles this year.
A: How would you describe the overall experience and success of your west coast trip?
ES: Overall, I think our west coast trip was very successful. We were able to play against some great competition and have success, and we feel like we improved every day over the course of the trip.
The Cardinals concluded their successful 12 game road trip with a record of 8-4 and will begin NESCAC play on Friday, March 27 at home against conference foe Hamilton.