After a delayed start to the season due to inclement weather, the baseball team swept the Lyon College Scots in their opening doubleheader Sunday, Feb. 9. In two games, the team scored four runs on nine hits. The Bisons won the first game 1-0, followed by a 3-2 win the second game.
Senior pitcher Cameron Walker started the first game and pitched seven innings, allowing only two hits. Senior first baseman Matt Calhoun scored the winning run with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Senior pitcher Bronson Smith received the win, pitching the final two innings. In the second game, senior pitcher Logan Holthaus started, followed by sophomore pitcher Colin Campbell who pitched the final two innings and earned the 3-2 win.
Head coach Patrick McGaha said he believed the offseason went very well, and the team worked hard to build chemistry and become mentally tough. He said the team is younger than last year from a hitting and position perspective, but older on the mound and defensively.
“We put the guys through a lot with our weight training program and our plyometrics and our conditioning,” McGaha said. “It brings you together as a team and it makes you tougher, and we just want our guys everyday to come out and compete extremely hard while representing the university in a positive way.”
After two series were canceled, redshirt junior Shane Kinnear said he thought it worked in their favor, giving them extra time to prepare for their first game.
“Before our first scheduled game, we only had about two weeks worth of practice, so it gave us more time to get into playing shape and ready for the season and the grind that comes with 50 games in three months,” Kinnear said. “The indoor facility has been extremely helpful, especially with how the weather has been lately. Yesterday’s games were really our first days outside in three days or so, and it is been a blessing to be able to work in the indoor facility.”
Graduate assistant Kevin Ganus said he thought the team performed well under the circumstances for their first series and thinks they will continue to improve and play well this season.
“We obviously want to have more than four runs and nine hits in a two game series,” Ganus said. “The good news is we only had one strikeout in the second game, and a lot of guys made good contact, so good things will happen for us if we keep having good swings and put balls in play.”
Kinnear said the pitching and defense held up well in the first two games, considering the inability to practice outside. The team worked to clear the field of snow Saturday prior to the Lyon series Sunday.
“Our defense looked about as good as it could for not being able to field a ground ball on an actual field,” Kinnear said. “Our pitching looked great. The guys got out there to battle and gave us a great chance to win the games.”
Ganus said the team’s depth would be an asset throughout the remainder of the season, after utilizing pinch runners to help score in game two.
“We were able to put in a pinch runner and score because we had confidence that freshman Ross Adams could come in the game late and play well,” Ganus said. “Having guys come off the bench and play well in different situations will be a strength for us throughout the season.”