Baseball’s bats come alive during 2-1 week

By DANIEL LANDY | April 19, 2018

HOPKINSSPORTS.COM The baseball team sits tied atop the Centennial Conference.

The Hopkins baseball team wrapped up another strong week, improving their Conference record to 9-2 through 11 games. The Blue Jays — who entered the week riding an eight-game winning streak — played three games, including a road doubleheader against the Haverford College Fords on Saturday and a home game against the Franklin & Marshall College Diplomats on Tuesday.

The first matchup with the Fords could not have gone better for the Blue Jays. 

Hopkins routed Haverford 8-1 behind another stellar pitching performance by senior Alex Ross. Ross — who is yet to allow a run in Conference play — pitched seven shutout innings and struck out eight batters during his outing. Ross discussed his performance against the Fords and his approach to this key Conference game.

“Haverford has been our Conference rival since I got here as a freshman, so every year, our games against them have been heated until the last pitch. It’s hard to keep that adrenaline down in the first few innings, and I think that showed for me a little in the first two innings with my command on the mound,” Ross said. “After that, I got settled in and trusted my stuff, which I think allowed for me to focus more on location and executing my pitches in crucial counts.”

At the plate, senior centerfielder Chris DeGiacomo and junior outfielder Tim Kutcher were standout performers in the Blue Jays’ strong offensive showing. DeGiacomo went 3-5 and blasted a two-run home run during the Jays’ four-run fourth inning, while Kutcher finished 2-4, with a double, three runs and two RBIs.

Following their convincing win in the first game of the doubleheader, Hopkins was not able to replicate its success in the second game, suffering a 13-8 loss to the Fords. Despite the loss, the Blue Jay hitters looked impressive at the plate, producing as many runs as they did in their victory earlier in the day. Sophomore second baseman Mike Eberle’s two-run home run in the fourth inning was an offensive highlight.

After the loss to Haverford ended the Blue Jays’ nine-game winning streak, the team quickly rebounded, edging Franklin & Marshall 6-5 on Tuesday. The Blue Jays trailed 3-1 in the eighth before they erupted for a five-run inning that swung the game in their favor. 

Freshman first baseman Austin Sacks — who finished the game 3-4 — delivered a clutch two-RBI double and scored the decisive run in the eighth. The Diplomats were able to get two runs across the plate in the top of the ninth but could not completely erase their deficit.

On the mound, junior starter Sean McCracken pitched nearly seven stellar innings, surrendering only one run. Junior pitcher Jack Bunting delivered an impressive performance out of the bullpen. Bunting was brought in with no outs in the ninth inning and the tying run on second base. He proceeded to retire all three hitters he faced to lock up a crucial Conference victory for the Blue Jays.

Ross offered his own evaluation of the team and explained several key factors that have led to the team’s continued success. 

“Our team has really hit its stride lately. Our offensive output has skyrocketed, and we’re constantly getting guys on base and putting pressure on the opposing teams’ starters,” Ross said. “Defensively, we’ve put it together, reducing the frequency of errors all across the field.”

Hopkins is firing on all cylinders right now and should have immense confidence heading into the stretch run of the regular season. The Blue Jays have a jam-packed schedule this upcoming week. On Friday, they will play the second game of their home-and-home series with Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Pa. They will then play a doubleheader at home against the Ursinus College Bears on Saturday, followed by a road matchup against the Salisbury University Sea Gulls on Sunday. Finally they will take on the Washington College Shoremen at home on Tuesday.

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, these upcoming games are significant, as Hopkins looks to solidify its spot atop the Centennial Conference standings. If the Blue Jays keep rolling, they will be in position to lock up the extremely valuable home-field advantage for the Conference Tournament.

“We’re a really difficult team to beat at home, so earning that home-field advantage for the Conference Tournament is our goal for the rest of the season,” Ross said. “If we can lock that down, then I’m very confident we can make a clean sweep of the Conference once the Tournament comes around and get that automatic bid to regionals.”

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