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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Baseball begins season in Florida

Niko Takayesu ’17 bunting in Thursday’s game. Photo by Chris Lee
Niko Takayesu ’17 bunting in Thursday’s game.  Photo by Chris Lee
Niko Takayesu ’17 bunting in Thursday’s game.
Photo by Chris Lee

The Grinnell baseball team’s season started over 1,000 miles away from the icy conditions of Pioneer Park. The Pioneer’s season began in Orlando, Florida over spring break, where they got off to a busy start, playing 10 games in one action-packed week.

The week started splendidly for the Pioneers, as opening day starter Sam Tinkham ’16 pitched a gem, allowing just two runs and striking out six while completing seven innings. Tinkham lived up to his reputation from last year when he was named to the All-Central Region Team.

The season opener was a solid team effort as Niko Takayesu ’17, Anthony Mack ’16 and Walker Bell ’15 each collected multiple RBIs (Runs Batted In) in an 11-3 stomping of Anderson University.

Tinkham, who has already thrown two other quality starts along with the win against Anderson, was humble about his accomplishment, instead pointing to the quality of the pitching staff as a group.

“As a whole, we are looking to be one of the best staffs, if not the best in the conference,” Tinkham said.

Unfortunately, the trip went south from the opener, as the Pioneers only won one of the next nine games in Florida.

“I’d say we could have put it together better. Some games we had fantastic pitching performances but we didn’t have the defense. Or we had some great defensive performances but we didn’t have the offense,” Bell said.

Head coach Tim Hollibaugh, however, was not nervous about results from Florida.

“The quality of opponents that we played [made the Florida trip] definitely the toughest schedule we played,” Hollibaugh said. “We played St. Thomas, who at the time was ranked second in the country. [University of Wisconsin] Oshkosh has won a national championship. We played a tough schedule.”

Despite the lackluster record, Tinkham was proud of the way the trip went, noting the difficulty of the schedule.

“We learned how good we can be when we play our game. I think it brought us together as a team,” Tinkham said.

The Pioneers seem to have righted the ship since getting back to Iowa, as they have won consecutive games at Central College and in the home opener against Simpson College, in which Sam Galanek ’18 slugged three home runs, tying a school record.

“It was super energizing … just an awesome feat, especially [with Galanek] being a freshmen,” Tinkham said.

“We have make sure [Galanek] keeps his head on his shoulders. Make sure he recognizes that the wind was blowing out,” Bell said teasingly. 

Hollibaugh expressed his excitement about the entire first-year class, including Galanek.

“It is a quality class. There is some baseball ability that is going to get better with age,” Hollibaugh said. 

Though Galanek got all the attention for that game, Graham Fisher ’16 cannot be overlooked. The third year threw seven superb innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits.

For Bell, a senior, the past few games have represented the beginning of the end of his baseball career, a fact he has been attempting to grapple with this entire season.

“My life has always been family, school and baseball. About a third of my life has been spent on a baseball field. You really begin to appreciate it your last year, every rep, every swing,” Bell said.

But Bell is optimistic even in the twilight of his baseball career. Bell believes this is the best team he has played for in his four years at Grinnell.

“You want to go out on top. [We’d] love to bring this school the first conference championship ever,” Bell said.

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