Baseball returned to Babb Field as the Blue Jays made their season debut against the Franklin and Marshall College Diplomats. A matchup between the top two teams in the Centennial Conference according to a preseason poll, the Jays failed to defend home turf after over a year without playing together.
In the first of the two-game series, the Jays came out sharp offensively. Graduate student leadoff hitter Dai Dai Otaka took four balls for the walk in the top of the first inning. Senior second baseman Matthew Ritchie knocked in a single, putting two Jays on base.
Junior catcher James Ingram made contact with the ball but could not record the hit. However, Ingram’s knock allowed Otaka and Ritchie to move to third and second base, respectively.
From here, a ground ball from graduate student first baseman Barrett Smith gave Otaka enough time to get home for the first run of the day. Unfortunately for the Jays, this score would go on to be their only run of the game.
Strong pitching kept the Jays lead for most of the game. Sophomore Jack McRae got the start, allowing no runs and recording three strikeouts through three innings.
Sophomore Kieren Collins kept the Diplomats scoreless from innings four to six. Collins shared what it was like for him personally returning to the field with a Hopkins jersey.
“Florida’s COVID restrictions were relaxed enough that [I] got some summer baseball in. But obviously with the season getting cut short last year, and not getting to play with our guys for over a year it felt great to be back,” he said.
The Diplomats finally found their rhythm in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring two runs off a pair of RBI singles from Don Diloreto and first baseman Will Samuel.
The Jays tried to respond in the top of the ninth. With two outs in the inning, the Jays still had a chance with runners on first and second base. Diplomat pitcher Stephen Turzai shut down any hopes for a comeback by getting the final out via a fielder’s choice.
The first game ended with a final score of 2-1 Franklin and Marshall. The second of the doubleheader proved to be an easier win for the Diplomats.
In the bottom of the second inning, Diplomat infielder Matt Gluck broke through with a single, allowing two runners to score. After no more runs from either side two and a half innings, Franklin and Marshall tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The Diplomats put up their seventh run of the game in the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot to right centerfield from outfielder Drew Butera. This seven-run lead would go on to hold for the rest of the game, as the Diplomats shut out the Jays.
Collins shared his perspective on the team’s performance.
“I think in terms of what the team is going to take from the series is the fact that we need to find a way to keep the energy up regardless of what’s going on in the game,” he said.
Collins also explained how COVID-19 restrictions have impacted the team.
“This weekend, outside of when we were threatening in the first inning of the first game, we were really flat,” he said. “Most of the team can’t even be in the dugout because of COVID restrictions... and we missed the typical fall experience where we usually have a chance to gel as a team and kind of define our identity. Whatever the reason is, we are going to have to figure out a way to overcome it and figure out a way to keep that energy up and get back to playing Hopkins baseball.”
Starting the season 0-2, the Jays will look to recover as they head to Carlisle, Pa. to take on the Dickinson College Red Devils.