After winning their last three games, the Hopkins baseball team started this weekend with a game against the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks.
Senior outfielder Chris Festa commented on the team’s winning streak.
“It definitely gives us confidence,” he said. “We are a program that’s used to winning and after a slow start, it was pretty frustrating. After a string of high-quality wins, we are starting to see what we can do as a team. With each win, we play more relaxed and more confident.”
The game started off slow, as both teams had combined for a single hit going into the third inning. That quickly changed in the bottom of the inning, as junior infielder Matthew Ritchie hit a double to give the Blue Jays a bit of a spark. In the next at-bat, Festa hit a ground rule double to bring Ritchie home and score the first run of the game.
The score stayed at 1-0 until the fifth inning. The bottom of the inning started out with senior infielder Dillon Bowman getting hit by a pitch. One out later, Ritchie got walked. The second out came via a fly ball from Festa, but the Blue Jays weren’t done. Sophomore catcher AJ King singled to load the bases. Junior outfielder Austin Sacks kept up the offense by hitting a single to right field, allowing Bowman and Ritchie to reach home plate and bring the score to 3-0 Hopkins.
With runners on first and third, the inning still wasn’t over. Sophomore outfielder James Ingram was at-bat. Ingram hit a single right into left field, scoring another run to make the lead four runs. After a pitching change, Stevens struck out the next batter to finally get the third out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Stevens made another pitching change. After putting the first two Blue Jays away, Stevens couldn’t stop senior infielder Mike Eberle from hitting a double to left center field. Ritchie managed to follow up with a hit of his own to score another run for Hopkins.
At this point, the Blue Jays were running away with the game. But the offensive onslaught didn’t let up. In the bottom of the eighth, Eberle hit a triple with a runner on to bring the lead to six runs. With Eberle waiting on third base, Ritchie hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in the team’s seventh run. The game was practically over at that point, and Stevens never scored a single run, ending the game at a score of 7-0 Hopkins. Freshman pitcher Peter Schaefer started the game and pitched five innings, earning his second win of the season and only allowing two hits. Junior pitcher Jonah Offman finished the game, earning the save while still allowing a single hit.
The team hoped to keep their streak alive against the ninth-ranked Salisbury University Sea Gulls on Sunday. The Blue Jays knew they were up against a tough opponent, so they came out firing. After a quick first out, Ritchie was able to get on base via a walk. Festa followed with a two-run home run.
Festa discussed his offensive performance.
“It always feels good,” he said. “It’s a personal goal of mine to do at least one thing each game to help the team win, and RBIs are a great way to do that.”
Later in the inning, with two men on base, senior catcher Mike Ainsworth hit an RBI single to give Hopkins a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first.
Salisbury matched the Blue Jays’ intensity early, getting two runs off of the Blue Jays’ starting pitcher, sophomore Matthew Dillard. Given the inning featured three fielding errors, Hopkins decided to stick with Dillard in the second inning.
The scoring didn’t stop after the first inning. In the top of the second, Ritchie followed an Eberle single with a two-run home run, the second of the game. Sacks hit a double later in the inning to score King, bringing the score to 6-2 Hopkins.
Keeping Dillard in the game was the right move, as he didn’t allow a single hit in the second inning. Bowman added a run in the third inning before Dillard finished the bottom of the third without allowing a hit again.
In the bottom of the fifth, with the score still at 7-2, Dillard successfully stalled the Salisbury offense, getting the third out with the bases loaded before anyone could score.
Eberle added another run for the Blue Jays in the top of the sixth. Salisbury brought in a pair of pinch hitters in the bottom of the inning to try to spur some offense. They did manage to score but still faced an 8-3 deficit.
The very next inning, Ainsworth hit a double into left field to bring two runners home. With a 10-3 lead in the sixth, the game was all but over. Salisbury tacked on one more run in the bottom of the ninth, but the game ended 10-4. Dillard earned his second win of the season.
The team hosted the Messiah College Falcons on Monday. Neither team could get a hit in the first inning, but in the first at-bat of the second inning, Messiah hit a home run, giving them an early lead.
Hopkins struggled to get started, but in the bottom of the third, the Blue Jays began fighting back. After Messiah’s pitcher hit Ritchie to give up the walk, Festa hit a two-run home run over the center field wall.
The next inning, Messiah continued their offensive momentum. With runners on first and second, the Falcons hit a single into center field and scored the tying run.
To start the fifth inning, Messiah made a pitching change. In the first at-bat, the reliever hit Ritchie to get him on base. Ritchie took advantage of the free walk and stole second. When the pitcher threw a wild pitch only moments later, Ritchie moved to third base. King then hit a sacrifice fly to let Ritchie score and put Hopkins in the lead again.
The offense exploded in the sixth inning. Senior infielder Adam Kohl started the scoring by hitting a double to bring in one run. Eberle and Ritchie both followed up with singles, bringing in three more runs altogether. This made the score to 7-2 at the end of the sixth inning.
The big moment of the day came in the seventh. Hopkins had already scored another run, but with the bases loaded, Ritchie hit a grand slam to left field, adding four more RBIs to his total. Both teams scored a few more runs in the following innings, but the game was already finished after that seventh inning. The final score was 14-4 Hopkins. Freshman pitcher Kieran Collins got his first win of the season. Ritchie hit a career-high six RBIs and now leads the team with 16 total.
Festa discussed the team’s goals for the season: to “win it all.”
“We really believe we can do it,” he said. “Our team message is to get better every day, to build on what we do well and improve in areas that need it. If we can stick to that message and execute, I think we have what it takes to go all the way.”
Matthew Ritchie did not contribute to this piece.