The Cardinals continue to dominate the diamond in NESCAC play this spring. This past weekend, the squad traveled to Middlebury College to take on the Panthers in doubleheader action, coming out with a win that improved Wesleyan’s conference record to a perfect 6-0 on the year.
In the first game of the day, Cardinal starter Gavin Pittore ’17 pitched a complete game (seven innings), giving up one earned run, striking out six, and allowing only three hits and a walk. Wesleyan scored in the first inning after Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15 singled home Donnie Cimino ’15, who had reached base via a walk before stealing second. Ben Hoynes ’15 singled in the second frame before scoring on a passed ball and an error.
The Panthers struck back in the bottom half with an unearned run, but a pair of sacrifice flies in the sixth by Nick Miceli ’17 and Ellis Schaefer ’17 gave the Cardinals all the insurance they needed to produce a 4-2 victory.
Later that afternoon, Sammy Elias ’15 took the mound for the Cardinals. Elias shut down the Panther offense, pitching seven innings of two-hit, no-run baseball and striking out 11 Middlebury batters. For his performance against the Panthers, in addition to his long save against Salve Regina earlier in the week, Elias was recognized as both NESCAC Pitcher of the Week and ECAC New England Div. III Pitcher of the Week.
A stellar performance by Cardinal batters backed up Elias on the mound. Four players hit home runs in the game, including Goodwin-Boyd, Jon Dennett ’15, Guy Davidson ’16, and A.J. Ferrara ’18.
Davidson went three for four on the day, producing a three-run double for the Cardinal faithful in addition to his long ball. Hoynes also went three for four in the game, scoring two runs and driving in two more. In all, the Cardinals produced 14 hits amounting to an 18-1 blowout victory.
On Wednesday, April 22, the Cardinals took on fellow in-state diamond dwellers, the Yale University Bulldogs. In their first meeting since 1993, Yale took a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Wesleyan outscored Yale 3-2 the rest of the game, but the damage had been done; the Cardinals fell 7-3. Jordan Farber ’16 went two for three on the day in an otherwise quiet effort by the Cardinal offense.
Nick Cooney ’15 weighed in on what he thinks has made the Cardinals so successful this season, and what they must continue to do to reach their goal of a national title.
“I would say that selflessness and a team-first mentality are key in order to complete our ultimate goal of a national championship,” Cooney said. “Our coaches tell us all the time to trust the process and work for each other, and with team success the individual accolades will follow. Obviously baseball is a sport which requires a lot of skill, but at this level there are plenty of great teams and it’s also a very mental game, which I think our team stresses a lot.”
Being a senior has its perks, but one downside is knowing that an athletic season will be the last of one’s career. Cooney shared his thoughts on his final season as a collegiate athlete.
“This senior season has been great thus far,” he said. “We came in as freshman with a really big class and almost everybody contributed right away, and since freshman year everyone has been improving and making the team better. The nice thing about our team is we have a bunch of leaders and alphas who compete day in and day out, and we all try and beat each other in every facet of life. We’ve enjoyed a good amount of success on the field over the past three years, and this senior year we hope to enjoy even more.”
In his four years as Cardinal, Cooney has racked up a large number of strikeouts on the mound. As he nears the all-time Wesleyan punchout record, Cooney offered the importance of the record to him.
“Because of our team and the group of guys we have, everyone has enjoyed relative success on a personal note as well,” he said. “Personally, I feed off of my teammates and the way in which we push each other in the gym, running sprints, on the field, in the classroom, and even down to eating and sleeping well.
“Because we have reached milestones as a team and went far into the postseason, I have had many opportunities to throw more innings and come closer to the record. I know everyone on the team would much rather us enjoy team success and have an opportunity to compete for the national championship, and I think that selflessness has led to individual success.”
Similarly, Cooney reflected upon Wesleyan’s place in the national rankings.
“We try not to look at or get caught up in what other people say about us, but at the same time there is a level of pride associated with rankings,” he said. “We know that we are a good team, and last year we kind of flew under the radar on our run into the postseason.
“This season we are more aware of the rankings, and other teams are as well which has put a bit of a target on us. Because of this we know that everyone has us circled on the calendar, and we can’t take a day off or any game too lightly. In addition, the rankings can help us get an at large bid to regionals if we do not fulfill our goal of winning the NESCAC championship.”
Wesleyan will host Amherst this coming weekend with the NESCAC West title on the line. The Cardinals have been in this position before; they won the NESCAC West last year by besting Amherst at home and will hope to make it back-to-back conference championships beginning this Friday, April 24.