The Scarlet & Black

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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
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Baseball 6-0 in conference play

Like those students who actually worked hard at the beginning of the semester and got A’s on all their assignments, Grinnell’s baseball squad couldn’t be happier with where they are. They are 6-0 in Conference play and 15-11 overall and with the toughest part of the regular season over, the team is confident heading into the remaining nine games.

“I’d be surprised if we lose more than two games for the rest of the season, because we’ve gotten so much better,” said pitcher Ben Pope ’12.

In addition to the success on the field, the Pioneers also fulfilled the four goals that Coach Tom Hollibaugh gave them at the start of the season.

“We had four goals from the start—the first was playing every game to win, second having fun playing together, third keeping things simple by not looking ahead and the fourth was taking care of business one game at a time,” Hollibaugh said.

The team’s recent success can be partly attributed to their schedule, which was particularly difficult during their Spring Break trip, including two games against last year’s Division III Champion, the University of St. Thomas. Despite the competition, the team finished the trip with a record of 5-6.

“We intentionally made the schedule more difficult, because we wanted to compete against harder teams, to prepare us for our Conference opponents,” Hollibaugh said.

It appears that the tough early schedule paid off—since returning from the Spring Break trip, the team is 9-2 at home and on the road.

“The offense has been consistent throughout, not being shutout and scoring at least three runs per game,” Pope said. “I think our pitching could be deeper, but for a D3 team we are pretty darn good.”

This past weekend Grinnell’s squad played a double header at Illinois College, in which they dominated both games, 12-1 and 10-3. They then played Coe College at home and were handed only their second loss in the past 11 games, 3-8.

“Coe was definitely better than [Illinois College], but I don’t feel they’re better than us,” Pope said. “It should have been a close game, but that’s just the way baseball works out sometimes.”

Pope saw a lot of success this season, with a 1.49 era and a 4-1 record over six games started and his control over his curveball and changeup came a long way.

“In my freshmen year I was a bit nervous, thinking, ‘This is college,’ but in reality I just had to realize that I don’t have to pitch around guys and that I can throw it right in the zone and challenge them,” Pope said.

Offensively, the team has been successful throughout, and Greg Suryn ’11 feels that it improved thanks to the chemistry that the current starting lineup found. Suryn, a key contributor this season, posted a .451 batting average and says that his success has been due to Coach Hollibaugh’s focus on situational hitting.

“My most important role on the team is being a situational hitter,” Suryn said.

“That means knowing what the situation is, if I’m the lead off batter it’s getting a hit and if there’s men on second and third it’s getting them in.”
It doesn’t appear that the headaches to which they’ve been subjecting opposing pitchers will end anytime soon.

“I’m pretty confident that our whole lineup can hit the ball—even our nine-hole has two home runs this year, and it gives me confidence that I can just throw strikes,” Pope said.

Coach Hollibaugh emphasized focus at the plate and waiting for the right pitchas opposed to trying to do too much.

“The only team that can beat us are ourselves,” Hollibaugh said. “Against IC we had a good approach at the plate, but looking at the Coe game, we needed to be more patient at the plate.”

The last goal for the team is to continue their perfect Conference record and play host to Conference on May 14-15.

“Hosting Conference is a pretty big deal, because the mounds at other places are terrible, at IC the mound is like a nipple, and later in the game a hole develops where you step, forcing you to throw upwards,” Pope said.

The Grinnell squad is looking forward to three games at home this weekend, a double header against IC on Saturday, 10 and 12:30 a.m., and then a 1 p.m. start time against non-conference opponent, Cornell College. If the team can complete a sweep of the games on Saturday they will need just one more conference win to host the tournament.

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