Baseball stays in second after packed 3-1 weekend

By SIMONE BLISS | April 26, 2018

Nick Burns
HOPKINSSPORTS.COM Senior Nick Burns was named Centennial Conference Pitcher of the week.

The Hopkins baseball team fought through a heavy schedule of four matches last weekend starting on Friday, April 20 and closing out on Sunday, April 22 with a 3-1 record. This puts the Jays at 11-3 in Conference play and 23-11 overall. 

The Jays opened the weekend with a loss to the Franklin & Marshall College Diplomats. Hopkins started the top of the first inning with a single from sophomore second baseman Mike Eberle, but the Jays could not convert the base hit into a run, quickly turning it over to the Diplomats. However, the Diplomats failed to get even a hit, as their first three batters were unable to get on base.

The second inning featured a hit from senior third baseman Mike Smith. Franklin & Marshall’s freshman Matthew Kann managed to get on base by getting hit by a pitch, but neither team was able to do more than that.

The pattern would continue for the next few innings. Every inning went without a hit or a run with the exception of two hits by the Diplomats, one in the third and one in the fourth, and a walk to first by junior outfielder Tim Kutcher after he was hit by a pitch. 

In the sixth inning, the Diplomats turned the tide, recording three hits and three runs with the help of a double from junior Danny Blugis, who later scored after advancing to third and then taking it home off of a single from sophomore Kyle Ebert. Another double from freshman Kelsey Launi resulted in two runs, putting the score at 0-3.

The Jays fought to make a comeback in the eighth, when they put their first run on the board. Starting off strong with a double, which turned into a run, by sophomore shortstop Dillon Bowman, the Blue Jays managed to put up three hits in total. They moved into the ninth with two solid hits but no runs, ending the game 1-3. 

Freshman first baseman Austin Sacks commented on why the team might have struggled during the game. 

“I think we struggled in part due to the weather and overlooking the game. It was by far one of the windiest days we’ve played, and it was blowing straight in. We usually got the ball in the air a ton, but that was not working at all,” Sacks said. “We thought that we were playing pretty well, and F&M had been struggling. I think we could have come in with a little more energy, and that would have changed the outcome.”

However, the Jays would have the chance to bounce back, as the weekend was far from over. The next day they faced a doubleheader against the Ursinus College Bears. 

Sacks remarked that the team came into their next opportunity with a new game plan. 

“Going into the Ursinus game, we knew that we had to score runs. Ursinus has had extremely poor pitching in the past, and this year isn’t an exception. However, they’re a really good batting team, so we knew that we might give up some runs, but we had to battle back,” Sacks said.

The game began with junior pitcher Preston Betz on the mound. Ursinus came in hot with a crucial double and two following runs. However, Hopkins was quick to answer back with an even more impressive four runs in one inning. Bowman hit a powerful home run to left field. The Bears’ pitcher Matt Bull threw several wild pitches, and multiple Jays walked, ending the inning with the score already at 4-2.

After a scoreless second, the Jays put up two runs with a steal from Smith and two doubles — one from sophomore catcher Mike Ainsworth and another from senior first baseman Frank Clara — in the third. 

In the fifth, the Blue Jays took yet another chance to put up more runs on the board, logging two more without response from the Bears and tallying the score up to 8-2. In the bottom of the seventh, the Jays widened the gap with a single from Clara; a walk from Ainsworth; a walk from Kutcher after getting hit by a pitch; and a double from Eberle. 

Ursinus fought to keep from trailing behind, putting up four runs in the eighth off of six hits and a home run, but it was not enough. The Jays put up another two in the bottom of the eighth, and Ursinus was unable to respond in the ninth, ending the game at 12-6.

The second game in the doubleheader was marked by even more Hopkins dominance, as they swept the Bears 5-0. This time, senior pitcher Nick Burns, who was named this week’s Centennial Conference Pitcher of the Week, took the mound. The Bears only managed to put up two hits and two walks against Burns.

Senior catcher Alex Darwiche sent one flying, hitting a home run in the top of the seventh, and the whole team managed to put up 11 hits total on the day. Darwiche commented on the team’s overall growth throughout the season.

“The team had a lot of growing pains early in the season. Now we’re consistently hitting the ball and striking out a lot less,” Darwiche said. “It really shows the hard work guys have been putting in all year.” 

To close the weekend, Hopkins came through with one more win, as junior pitcher Sean McCracken pitched for the Jays on Sunday.

The game began with a slow start as neither team put up numbers until the bottom of the second, when the now 21st-ranked Salisbury University Sea Gulls scored two runs. The Jays were quick to strike back with their own two runs after a double from Eberle and a single from Darwiche.

Salisbury crawled ahead in the third and fourth, notching a run in each. However, Hopkins continued to fire back, putting up two runs in the third and one in the fifth after a spectacular home run from Bowman. The score was tied at 4-4.

The tie would not last long though, as the Jays put up three more by the ninth, while Salisbury could only respond with one last run, ending the game with a close score of 7-5.

Kutcher reflected on what he thought the key factor was in bringing home the victory for the Jays.

“The game as a whole was a big team effort. We got the clutch hits when we needed them, made some key defensive plays and had a great pitching performance on the mound from Sean [McCracken],” Kutcher said. “Having him give us a complete nine strong innings definitely helped us keep momentum. We made some mistakes, but everyone did their part to make up for them. When we went down we battled to get the lead back right away and didn’t let the momentum shift away from us.”

The Jays will be back on Thursday, April 26 as they host Washington College to compete in one of their last few games of the regular season.

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