In their first game in more than three weeks, the baseball team played Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on Friday, March 24. Sean O’Neill ’18 struck out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings, but the Judges were unable to capitalize offensively and lost 1-4. With the loss, the Judges fall to 1-5 while the Engineers move to 10-4.
Heading into the game, the Judges had a particularly long dry-spell of games. Their last game was played on March 6 against UMass Boston. Postponements included a double-header against Bates College and games against Eastern Connecticut State University, Babson College and Salem State University.
“The weather has definitely been pretty frustrating for us, but at the end of the day, everyone is dealing with it,” explained O’Neill. The Judges have been forced to practice indoors in the Gosman fieldhouse for the majority of their season due to the ugly weather the past several weeks, but they have made the most of their practices. “We have a lot of young guys that love baseball and bring a lot of intensity and focus to practice every day, indoors or outdoors,” O’Neill continued.
From the first inning at WPI, the Judges found themselves playing catch-up. They went down 2-0 after the first inning and did not score any runs until the ninth inning, at which point it was too late.
Despite a career high in strikeouts, O’Neill believes that he has lots to improve on after Friday’s game. “There’s definitely some things I need to clean up moving forward. The strikeouts look good on paper, but at the end of the day, I gave up a couple key hits and didn’t execute well enough to get the W.” After seven innings, O’Neill was relieved by Liam Coughlin ’17. O’Neill credits his strong outing to his pitching coach Borja Berasaluce, who he says works the pitching staff very hard, which has evidently paid off.
Although the Judges did not score a run until the ninth inning, they still had several opportunities. Jay Schaff ’17 was left on base three times in the first, third and sixth innings. He finished 2-3 with a walk. Victor Oppenheimer ’20 went 3-4, and Ryan Tettemer ’17 knocked in Dan O’Leary ’20 to spoil WPI’s shutout.
Many of WPI’s players have been on fire as of late. Notably, Nick Comei has been batting an astounding .691 in his last three games. He went 2-4 with a double, a triple, and an RBI. Steven Gallagher added a solo home run, while Eric LaCroix tripled. Additionally, Ryan Tropeano doubled and scored two runs.
The Judges may have started off slow at 1-5, but with 16 first-years, there is a lot of room for improvement. On Thursday, March 30, the Judges left for Ohio to begin UAA competition with a four-game series against Case Western Reserve University. O’Neill and the rest of the baseball team are looking forward to their next few games, as they certainly have something to prove. “The next month is going to be a little hectic with all the make up games, but it’s going to be a lot of fun to get outside and show everyone we’re a lot better than a 1-5 team,” he said.