It was 5:00 Friday evening, 40 men piled on a bus outside the Roche Sports Complex on the campus of Hillsdale College with one thing in mind, to start the year 4-0.
We were on our way to Louisville, Kentucky to kick off the season against Davis and Elkins College and Alderson-Broaddus University, both from West Virginia, in a pair of double-headers. The drive was around five hours during which we watched movies and slept (or tried to) as we rode to the hotel.
On Saturday we left the hotel at 11:00 a.m. for our 2 o’clock game with Davis and Elkins. We arrived at the field a little over two and a half hours before the game. We stretched as a team out in left field and got ready to take some on-field batting practice for the first time this year. Our batting practice is done in three hitting groups, one at a time with the two off groups in their defensive positions getting fungos and live reads off the bat. The pitchers are spread out on the field shagging and making sure that all the balls hit get returned to the bucket.
Both games were seven innings, I started the first one on the mound and our senior RHP Matt Reck was the starter for the second one.
We won the first game 3-2 with some great defensive plays. I was not as sharp as I would have like to have been but the defense bailed me out with two double plays in the 5 1/3 innings I pitched and then ended the sixth inning with a double play behind one of our senior RHP’s Colin Gerish. Our school’s all-time saves leader, redshirt junior RHP Dan Pochmara came in to put Davis and Elkins away in the seventh. Our three runs came off the bats of sophomore Tad Sobieczszanski, junior Sean Bennett, and freshman Jake Lee.
In the second game we let our mistakes take over a little bit more than the first one. We ended up losing 6-1 but even though the score didn’t end up in our favor there were still some bright spots. We were hitting the ball pretty well it just seemed like every time we barreled it up they were right at the defense. Jake Lee continued his good day at the plate with two more hits in the second game. In the top of the seventh we were down by five but showed some life with late hits but it was not enough for us to come back.
We were scheduled for two games on Sunday against Alderson-Broaddus but they were cancelled because of bad weather.
The win in the first game was the first win of our new head coach Eric Theisen‘s career. After being cooped up inside for the past two months, 1-1 on the first day is not all that bad, but there is definitely room for improvement. Our goal as a team is to continuously improve throughout the season so that we are playing our best baseball in May when the postseason starts.
We have another five days of practice and preparation before we head back to Louisville next weekend and then go to Florida from there for our spring break trip.