We are back from spring break, a fence stops us from cutting through Andrus Field, and that can only mean one thing: baseball season is upon us. The baseball team traveled to Tuscon, Ariz. over spring break to play their first 12 games of the season, and posted a 9-3 record to start the season off right.
The Cards’ season started with two wins against Dubuque University and Greenville University, and in just their third game of the season, Greenville forced the Cards to play 10 innings before the Red and Black could claim a 7-6 victory. Just two days later, Salem State University did the same, as the Cards played 10 innings to come out on top, 2-1.
The team suffered their first loss against Buena Vista University after a challenging start. Buena Vista scored eight runs in the first two innings, and though the Cards roared back with a seven-run fourth inning, Buena Vista continued to perform offensively, and the Cards could not keep up, as they fell 15-10 and ended their four-game winning streak.
This loss did little to change the Cardinals’ outlook, because, according to Coach Mike Woodward, the team tries not to dwell on the past.
“As a program, we try to focus on each pitch as a singular event, and then move on to the next pitch,” said Woodward. “That includes striving to be our best selves against every opponent.”
Wesleyan went on to win their next three games, against Hamline University, Oberlin College, and Allegheny University. The matchup against Allegheny only went 7 innings, which was all the Cards needed to record another victory, this time with a 7-1 margin. Freshman pitcher Kelvin Sosa also recorded the first win of his collegiate career, allowing no earned runs on four hits in his five innings pitched. Later that afternoon, the Cardinals faced Allegheny again, but this time fell 9-7.
The next day, the Cardinals had a rematch against Oberlin, and the game proved to be the highest scoring since the 2000 season. The game was close at first, and Wesleyan was up 8-7 heading into the fifth. Then, with a six-run inning that included a three-run homer from Matt Jeye ’18, and another six-run performance in the sixth, Oberlin had little chance of recovering. The Cardinals showed no signs of slowing down even in the eighth inning. Wes scored another seven runs, including a two-run homer from Chase Pratt ’20, the first of his collegiate career. At the end of eight, Wesleyan crushed Oberlin 28-12.
The Cards split the last two games of their spring trip, losing to Carleton College 5-4, and besting University of Wisconsin-Superior 14-5. Sophomore pitcher Alec Olmstead recorded his second win of the season against Wisconsin, only allowing three earned runs on five hits in seven innings pitched for the Cardinals. He also recorded a game-high eight strikeouts, and is sure to play a big part in the Cards’ defense this season.
Woodward was impressed with his team’s performance in Arizona.
“The guys kept improving in chunks every day on the spring trip,” Woodward recalled. “They were relentless with their energy, and that allowed us to win a bunch of close, tense games, including two in extra innings.”
In addition to their winning record, two Cardinals have already been recognized for their stellar performances on the diamond. Jeye was recently honored as the NESCAC Player of the Week, while junior Ryan Earle was named the conference Pitcher of the Week on March 19. Jeye went 10-for-22 in five games, and totaled 14 RBI’s, eight runs, two doubles, a triple, and a homer. Earle recorded two saves in addition to a win of his own in the Cardinals’ opening week, and helped Wesleyan out of several jams to get them to their 9-3 start. Coming off of a 5-0 record and 2.1 ERA from last season, the Cards expect big things from Earle this spring.
Then, the team returned to the East Coast to play Eastern Connecticut State University on Wednesday evening. Eastern Connecticut surged ahead of a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning, scoring seven runs that inning and going on to win 13-4. They will face off against Endicott College this afternoon, and have their home opener against Roger Williams University on Saturday afternoon, a doubleheader with games at one and four o’clock. They will get into conference play next weekend, with a three-game series against Middlebury.
The Cardinals have already shown that they can be a successful team, but have plenty to overcome if they want to make a run into the postseason, namely the proportion of underclassmen on the roster. Woodward is confident in the abilities of his players, but recognizes the unique challenges of playing at the college level.
“We are a young team and we are learning so many things every game about playing at an elite level,” Woodward said.
More experienced teams may pose a challenge for the Cards, which will surely lead to an exciting season that we can all watch unfold from the comfort of Foss Hill.
Rose Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org