Last Saturday, the baseball team took on Bowdoin in a day-night doubleheader on Dresser Diamond. Each team finished the day with one victory apiece out of the two low-scoring games. Wes came into the weekend ranked 25th in the country and second in New England, but saw its six-game winning streak come to an end in the first game of the day. The Cardinals were able to take the nightcap and split the series with their NESCAC competitors.
“Our success is in our consistency and our ability to excel in some areas when we are underperforming in others,” said Robby Harbison ’17. “For example, when we are not performing to our potential at the plate, our defense and pitching is stellar, affording us another opportunity for a tally in the win column.”
In the first game of the day, the Cardinals fell 1-0, marking the first time this season that they have scored fewer than two runs. Wesleyan starter Gavin Pittore ’17 took a no-hitter into the 7th inning, having allowed only two batters to reach base via walks. However, an infield single ended the no-hit bid.
Pittore then hit the next Polar Bears batter, before a single to center scored the only run of the game for either team. Wesleyan recorded eight hits on the day, but had two base runners tagged out at home in the fifth inning in what would be its only scoring chances of the day.
In the nightcap, Nick Cooney ’15 allowed two runs on six hits over 6.1 innings. Cooney picked up eight strikeouts while only walking one batter.
Sammy Elias ’15 recorded the final eight outs of the game, conceding no runs, allowing three hits, and recording two strikeouts en route to the save. The win improved Cooney’s record to 4-1 on the season.
Tied 1-1 in the fifth inning, singles by Ben Hoynes ’15 and Andrew Yin ’15, as well as a walk by Eric Jones ’16, loaded the bases for the Cardinals. Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15 then broke the tie with a sacrifice fly, plating Hoynes. Jon Dennett ’15 proceeded to single home what would turn out to be the deciding run in the game. Bowdoin scored a run in the 7th inning but Wesleyan was able to hold on for the 3-2 victory.
“Our roster, and specifically our starting lineup, is extremely upperclassmen oriented.” Harbison said. “Two of our three weekend starters are seniors, all three starting outfielders are seniors, and two of our four infielders are seniors. Given the circumstances, the freshmen on our team have not had the opportunity to explicitly impact our season. Many of their roles, as of now, are to maintain energy on the bench and urge the starters to work that much harder with them right on our heels. However, our freshmen class is impressive in many regards, from their work ethic to their talent on the ball field, and each of them will positively impact our program at some point in their careers.”
Harbison also spoke to the importance of the class of 2017 on the team, both in terms of play and the mentorship of first years.
“Though much of the mentoring comes from the upperclassmen and the coaches, I believe there is a role for second year guys to have a positive effect on the freshmen on the team, as we are only one year removed from the position they are in,” Haribson said.
After splitting the doubleheader against Bowdoin, Wesleyan faced Salve Regina University in non-conference action. It was a tight game on Dresser Diamond, as neither team ever led by more than a run. Salve gained a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first inning when two Wesleyan errors, followed by a pair of singles, brought home a run. However, Salve wouldn’t lead long before Wesleyan pulled ahead.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Wesleyan scored a run off an errant throw caused by a successful double-steal, and plated another when Hoynes grounded out. Salve took the lead once more in the 3rd inning, scoring two more unearned runs.
However, the Cardinals answered in the bottom of the 5th when Donnie Cimino ’15 scored on a Goodwin-Boyd sacrifice fly. Soon after, Dennett would reach base via walk before stealing second base and scoring on an RBI single by Jones. In the bottom of the 9th, Yin made a leaping backhanded grab to record the final out of the game.
Cardinal starter Peter Rantz ’16 pitched 6.1 innings, allowing no earned runs on seven hits, picking up five strikeouts, and improving his record to 3-1 so far in his junior campaign. Elias would come in to record yet another save, pitching 2.2 no-hit innings and allowing only one batter to reach base on a walk.
The win improved Wesleyan to 15-5 on the year, and, having won seven out of their last eight games, they are now ranked third in New England.
“Focusing on rankings is risky.” Harbison said. “Although it is nice to be recognized as one of the top programs in New England, we try to not place too much emphasis on it. We come to the field each day as if we are an unranked program, and we focus on the present moment during both practice and games, and that is why we are having the success we are. We all know there is a target on our backs, and we acknowledge it, but in our case, that is nothing but a motivator to work and strive even harder for a national championship.”
Next up for the team is a trip to Middlebury this weekend. The Cardinals will play a three-game series in NESCAC play.