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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Baseball drops three over weekend

Having just returned from a series of games over the weekend in Fulton, MO, the Grinnell Baseball team practices Wednesday night in the PEC - Lawrence Sumulong

The Grinnell Baseball team soaked in the Missouri sun and chance to play outdoors as they played a weekend full of baseball last week in Fulton, Mo. The team kicked off the season winning the first game versus Westminster College, by a score of 15-11. In the first game of the season Grinnell had the chance to show what their offense was fully capable of doing. 

“The way we won the game was with our hitting—we didn’t give an at bat away,” said outfielder J.P. Prouty ’10.  

However, Grinnell couldn’t hold up against Central College, dropping each match up, by a score of 4-14 on Saturday and then 6-18 on Sunday. The Pioneers rounded off the opening weekend by a losing in a squeaker to Westminster, by a final of 6-7. Despite the losses, in the initial win over Westminster, the team demonstrated their ability to regain control of a tough game.

“We had multiple comebacks and we showed that we are tenacious,” said team captain Chad Takabuki ’10.

Head Coach Tim Hollibaugh was pleased with how his team dealt with the pressure in that first game. 

“What led to the victory would be great team baseball, guys being patient at the plate and some clutch pitching/defense in the ninth inning to seal the game up,” Hollibaugh said.

Though for all of the good feelings that the first game left the team with, the next three left as many question marks and frustrations. 

“Our losses were the result of terrible team defense,” said catcher Michael Nodzenski ’12. “We will not win games if we’re consistently making five or six errors per game.”

The team recorded seven errors in their first game against Central. By the end of the four games their error count had totaled 19. 

“Between our outfield defense and pitching, we just didn’t look like a Grinnell College Baseball team,” Takabuki said.

“We made a lot of errors and compounded those mistakes, instead of just making one we continuously made them and hurt our pitching staff and got us into a position we couldn’t get out of,”  Matt Blumenreich ’13 said.

When pressed for an explanation for the poor showing in the final three games, the players seemed to chalk it up to nerves and expectations. 

“Everybody knows that people are still competing for positions, everybody is nervous and don’t want to make errors and we didn’t have people settling down,” said outfielder Paden Roder ’10.

The Pioneers hope to make progress on their nerves and defense in their home opener against Wartburg at 2 p.m. on March 17. 

“We want to improving on what we learned over last weekend,” Hollibaugh said. “We played well enough to succeed in all four games, but we were our own worst enemy in the end.”

“[Wartburg] always have some big power boys so they hit for power pretty well and we have to be ready to fight,” Prouty said. 

The Pioneers know that their practices and the game on Wednesday are all preparation for the Spring Break trip. 

“This Spring Break trip we’re facing the toughest teams we’ve ever faced in our history,” Takabuki said. “St. Thomas and St. Olaf, our last three games of the trip will really be what defines our Spring Break trip.” 

The 10 game stretch in Vero Beach, Florida will begin Sunday, March 21 against Amherst College at Chain O’Lakes, and finish with a doubleheader versus Knox College at home on April 3.

“It’s going to be fun and beautiful weather, but it’s also going to be exhausting, so the number one thing is to be mentally prepared that you’re going to be physically exhausted and still be able to play through it,” Roder said. 

The Spring Break trip will be a great test for the team.

 “We need to learn how to weather the storm when things start going wrong, specifically when we start making errors, and not let one bad play snowball,” Nodzenski said. “We need to prove to ourselves that we’re just as talented as any team in the country, and can go toe to toe with some of the nation’s top ranked teams.”

Coach Hollibaugh is confident that it will be a successful trip and one that will put them in on the right foot for the rest of the season. 

“If we improve on the little things from the past weekend, play to win every game and play Grinnell College baseball, then we know it will be a successful trip,” Hollibaugh said.

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