The Hopkins baseball team had its second consecutive 3-0 weekend this past weekend. The weekend started on Saturday with a doubleheader against the Elmira College Soaring Eagles. In the first game, the Blue Jays took advantage of a walk-off single by sophomore infielder Matthew Ritchie in the bottom of the 10th inning to win the opener.
In the second game, senior pitcher Jack Bunting came into the game in the sixth inning with the Blue Jays down 3-2. He proceeded to strike out the first two batters he faced, which set the tone for the rest of his outing, where he struck out nine Soaring Eagles during the four innings he pitched.
Hopkins backed up Bunting by scoring five runs in the bottom of seventh inning, which put the score at 7-3, a lead Bunting was able to hold for the remainder of his outing. The win gave Bunting his second win of the year which puts him in a tie for the team lead.
With the impressive weekend, the Jays jumped all the way up to No. 9 in the most recent D3baseball.com poll, and Bunting was chosen as The News-Letter’s Athlete of the Week.
The News-Letter: What has been the biggest key to the team’s current seven-game winning streak?
Jack Bunting: I think our success on the mound has come from not walking hitters. We have been able to throw strikes and force teams to string together hits in order to beat us, which is difficult with no walks.
N-L: What allowed you to have so much success against Elmira Saturday?
JB: I think my success came from just being able to throw strikes. I never go out to pitch trying to strike people out, it just happened from throwing strikes.
N-L: Do you have a different mindset when you’re coming in as a reliever compared to when you are a starter?
JB: As much as I try to have the same mentality starting and relieving, it is a little difficult to do so. As a starter I know I can prepare in advance for the game which is harder as a reliever when you are on the bench one minute and on the mound the next. But once I’m actually in the game, I try to execute the same way.
N-L: What are the biggest areas of growth for the team going forward?
JB: I think we are going to find out, especially in Florida, that we need guys to step up on the pitching staff to fill significant roles once we start playing four or more games a week. Additionally, while we have been winning games off home runs so far, as we play on the road we will need to learn how to score runs by stringing together singles and doubles rather than home runs.
N-L: How much does the team’s national ranking affect the team’s confidence and performance?
JB: It’s hard as a team to ignore the rankings altogether, especially with our new top 10 ranking but I think once on the field it doesn’t matter to any of us. We know that in the end, rankings don’t matter, all that does is winning playoff games. We were ranked No. 2 in the country at the end of the 2017 regular season but we lost in Regionals, so who cares?
N-L: What are your personal goals as the season progresses?
JB: For my goals, I want to finish my career on a strong note. I started off throwing well last year and ended up finishing the season horribly. So as far as this year goes, I want to continue my success through Conference games and into the playoffs.
N-L: What are the team’s goals for the rest of the season?
JB: I think this program really only has one goal and that is to win the National Championship. Of course we want to win the Conference but I think we see that as more of a step along the way than the final goal.
The Blue Jays will be back in action for their annual trip to Fort Myers, Fla. for the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, where they will play nine games in 10 days. Hopkins will then return to Baltimore and play at The Catholic University of America on March 26.