If there is one thing that can be said about baseball in Michigan with absolute certainty, it’s that the schedule made before the season will not be play exactly as it was drawn up.
Every year the state of the early games in the season is in question because of the weather. Weather is unpredictable and uncontrollable, so all we can do is be prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally to play at any time. The original plan was for us to play Malone University in Canton, OH on Saturday and Sunday, come home for class on Monday, then head to Columbus, OH to play Ohio Dominican University on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Before we were about to head to Canton, they were hit by a snowstorm that left a few inches of accumulation on their field. Because of that, we had to reschedule our games to a Sunday-Monday against Malone. This made it so we were playing six games in four days Sunday through Wednesday. The schedule change was fine for us as players (our Florida trip had a lot more games in a row) so it was not a concern for us. The one thing that was a challenge was managing our schoolwork and talking with professors about the schedule change.
Normally, we try to let our professors know at least a week in advance when we are going to miss class because of games. Because these schedule changes were sort of last minute, making contact with professors and staying ahead with our schoolwork became that much more important. When all of that was settled before we left it was time for the fun part.
We left early Sunday morning for Canton and arrived at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium to take on the Pioneers of Malone University. We played one game Sunday and won with solid play all around. Senior RHP Matt Reck threw a nine inning complete game while facing only four more than the minimum amount of batters the entire game. We played well offensively and had great defense behind Reck to take the first game of the series 5-2. On Monday we had a double header with Malone and were looking to sweep the series before we headed to Columbus. We won the first game 6-3 with a solid performance by freshman RHP Jake Lee. Although he is young, he showed some real maturity and battled through 5.1 innings on a day where he didn’t have his normal shut-down stuff. Our school’s all-time saves leader Dan Pochmara came in to close it out and we were up in the series 2-0. Sophomores Tad Sobieszczanski and Luke Ortel led the way with two hits and an RBI each. Although we won the series, we still wanted a sweep going into the ODU series. We weren’t as sharp as we were in the previous two games and lost 8-4.
We didn’t have time to dwell on the loss that much as we made our way to Columbus. We had three more conference games to play so that is where our focus was. Going into the series we were 5-4 in conference play and a series win would be huge for our playoff push. We went 1-2 in the series which weren’t the results we wanted but it still did not leave us in a terrible place as far as the standings were concerned. We are still right in the thick of things and we know that we can beat every team in the conference. What we need to do is establish some consistent play all the way around. Our pitchers need to keep us in games and give us a chance to win, our defense needs to continue to play as close to mistake free baseball as possible, and our hitters need to capitalize on scoring opportunities on a consistent basis.
Heading into this weekend we have a chance to jump up in the standings with a good series against Ashland University. Again, weather might become an issue as we try to play on our home field for the first time this season. A good weekend can lay the foundation for consistent, winning baseball that can carry us through the rest of the season.