Hopkins baseball started off their season with a trio of games this past weekend against the State University of New York College at Cortland, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and North Carolina Wesleyan College. The Blue Jays went 2-1 in the stretch.
Junior pitcher Kieren Collins got the start in the season opener for Hopkins. He held Cortland scoreless through the first two innings of the game, while the Blue Jays offense got off to an early start.
The Blue Jays got the scoring started in the bottom of the second inning, taking a 2-0 lead. Junior outfielder Sam Frank reached base on an error. Senior third baseman Jack Walters took a hit-by-pitch which advanced the runners to first and second. A fly-out by freshman infielder Dylan Whitney advanced Frank to third, and graduate outfielder Sam Browning and senior catcher AJ King drove in the first two runs of the season.
Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived, as Cortland would respond quickly with two runs in the third inning. Hopkins would respond with another run in the fourth inning off a solo homer by Frank, but a five-run fifth inning for Cortland would effectively put the game out of reach. Hopkins would ultimately fall 9-4.
Despite this being the fourth-straight year the Blue Jays have lost their season opener, they have gone on to reach the College World Series two of the past three seasons (2019 and 2021), so there is a lot of optimism that this season will be special for Hopkins baseball.
In game two against MIT, Hopkins held onto a lead and was able to maintain it. A seven-run seventh inning was highlighted by a grand slam by freshman infielder Shawn Steuerer, who turned a 7-1 lead into a decisive 11-1 lead, which became a convincing 12-2 victory. Steuerer had a game-high three hits. Senior pitcher Matthew Dillard had an impressive performance, striking out six batters and allowing only one unearned run. His 6.1 innings helped give Hopkins their first victory of the season. The Blue Jays are now 4-1 all-time against MIT, with this being their first matchup since 1964.
The last matchup of the weekend was against North Carolina Wesleyan, a team that historically has had success against the Blue Jays. NC Wesleyan struck first, recording two early doubles against junior pitcher Jack McRae. After the one run allowed, McRae settled in nicely, going 6.1 innings striking out eight batters and only two more hits after the first inning.
A single to center by King sparked the offense for the Blue Jays. What followed was an onslaught of runs. Steuerer homered for the second consecutive day to give the Blue Jays an early 3-1 lead. The Blue Jays added another run in the sixth inning as Steuerer led off with a double to center. Hits by Browning and senior hitter Jack Pausic helped set up Walters for a run-batted-in single. Senior first baseman Jared deFaria brought in two more runs in the seventh inning to make it 5-1 and then 7-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Blue Jays are now 2-3 all-time against North Carolina Wesleyan. This is only the second time they have faced off in the regular season. Over the weekend, head coach Bob Babb became the second active coach in Division-III baseball to reach 1,200 career wins, joining Tom Austin of Methodist University.
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