Coming into the doubleheader having won its last six games in a row, the Hopkins baseball team defended home turf against the Ursinus College Bears on April 24, the Jays’ senior day.
Reigning Centennial Conference Pitcher of the Week sophomore Peter Schaefer took the mound for the Blue Jays in game one of the matchup. After allowing a leadoff double, Schaefer took care of business, grounding out the next batter and striking out the two batters after. In the bottom of the first, the Jays loaded the bases but failed to convert, leaving the score 0-0.
After another scoreless inning by both sides in the second, the Bears found some offense in the top of the third. A pair of hits to start the inning put runners on first and third. A wild pitch and a sac fly allowed for the Bears to come into the bottom of the third inning up 2-0.
The third inning, however, would be the last the Bears made any noise on the offensive end, as the Jays dominated the rest of the game.
In the top of the fourth, Schaefer had little trouble retiring the side, striking out two batters swinging. In the bottom of the inning, the Jays finally got on the board after a single from senior Mark Lopez brought junior James Ingram home.
Schaefer continued to hold it down on the mound, recording yet another one-two-three inning in the fifth. The bats woke up for the Jays this inning. With two runners on base, junior Jared deFaria smacked a single to left centerfield, bringing senior Matthew Ritchie home. Senior Austin Sacks followed up with a double to score two more Hopkins runs. Another single from Lopez later in the inning would put the score at 6-2 heading into the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, deFaria launched a solo shot to left field, giving Hopkins its seventh run of the game. While the Bears struggled to score, the Jays continued to extend their lead, eventually totaling 11 runs by the game’s end.
For the third game in a row, the team scored 11 runs or more. Sacks believes the team is finally gelling after a turbulent offseason due to the pandemic.
“I think the offense turning around was a matter of time. This has been anything but a normal season in terms of preparation and game schedules,” he said in an interview with The News-Letter. “We have some transfers, and it took a bit of time to figure out everyone’s role. I think now guys are comfortable, and everyone has gained a lot of confidence for when they step in the box.”
After winning game one 11-2, the Jays hoped to see more of the same in game two of the doubleheader. Sophomore Kieren Collins got the start on the mound, recording three straight outs in the first inning.
Graduate student leadoff hitter Dai Dai Otaka singled towards centerfield to get the offense going in the bottom of the first. Ritchie followed up with another single. A ground ball from junior AJ King allowed Otaka and Ritchie to advance to second and third. A double by deFaria brought both runners home, and then Sacks singled, allowing deFaria to score.
The Jays would go on to score two more runs, one of which came from a solo home run from deFaria. Leading 5-0, they would hold onto their lead thanks to strong pitching from Collins and sophomore Jack McRae, winning the game 5-2 and earning them the sweep for the seniors.
Now with a record of 9-3, the Jays have just one regular-season game left before heading into the postseason. Sacks shared what he sees as the formula for a deep postseason run.
“Looking forward, our offense has been fueled by great pitching and solid defense. The pitchers have taken a lot of pressure off the offense, and it seems a little easier to score runs when you continually have the momentum. I think we are continuing to get better every day at practice, and I look forward to seeing what this team can achieve,” he said.
Hoping to extend their win streak to nine games, the Jays will take on the Muhlenberg College Mules in Allentown, Pa. on May 1.