After another busy week of back-to-back games, the Hopkins Blue Jays now hold a record of 5-3, losing two of the three games played over the weekend and winning one later on in the week. Over the weekend, two of those games were against the University of Southern Maine Huskies, where each team took a win. The Jays then fell 0-3 to the eighth-ranked Salisbury University Sea Gulls.
In the first game against the Huskies, Hopkins took the lead early on with help from the Huskies defense, putting up a four-run bottom of the first. Prominent players include sophomore infielder Jimmy Stevens, who took advantage of an error made by the Huskies’ second baseman, sophomore outfielder Tripp Meyers, senior first baseman Jared deFaria, senior catcher AJ King, graduate outfielder Sam Browning and senior baseman Jack Pausic, who made the last play to let deFaria increase the lead to 4-0.
Southern Maine got one back in the second inning, but after that, no team scored until the bottom of the fifth when Hopkins added another. King started the inning with a double and shortly moved to third on a Meyers flyout to center. Freshman infielder Shawn Steuerer bounced one and King was able to slide and avoid the tag at home plate, bringing the Jays to a 5-1 lead.
The Huskies then hit three solo home runs to tie up the game in the top of the ninth. There was another scoreless inning in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras. Southern Maine then put two runners in scoring position by loading the bases on a strikeout/wild pitch, bringing them to a 7-5 lead. The Blue Jays were left stranded to end the game.
The next day, the Blue Jays came back to Stromberg Stadium prepared. The Huskies’ Jason Komula drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the third to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead. The Blue Jays then rallied with four runs in the bottom of the inning to grab a 5-2 lead that they would never relinquish.
At the top of the fourth, Southern Maine scratched for a run as Brogan Searl led off with a single, advanced to second on a walk and raced home on another single to right to make the score 5-3. It didn’t take long for Hopkins to restore the three-run lead as freshman infielder Dylan Whitney hit a home run, making this run the final run of the game. The final score was 6-3. Junior shortstop Matthew Chang expressed his thoughts about his experience playing against the Huskies in an interview with The News-Letter.
“Obviously it stings losing such a tight game, but we were able to learn from our mistakes and adjust our game plan accordingly,” he said. “We knew Southern Maine would come out firing, so it was important for us to be ready starting from the first pitch.”
Additionally, he also commented on the changes the Jays made between the first and second games.
“The main difference between the second game and the first game was that we never let them gain too much momentum, as every time Southern Maine scored, we responded with runs of our own. Add that on top of getting key outs in big spots on the pitching side, and it resulted in a Hopkins victory,” he said. “Being able to even up the series with Southern Maine definitely felt good, but I was more impressed with how we were able to bounce back after dropping a tough one the day before. It shows how resilient the guys on our team are.”
On Sunday, Hopkins played against Salisbury, who jumped ahead in the top of the first inning, scoring one run. The momentum continued through to the third inning where the Gulls scored another two runs, bringing them to a 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, Hopkins was not able to come back from this deficit and there were no more runs scored in the rest of the game.
Chang commented on the loss.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us, as they are the defending national champions and always give us a good game,” he said. “Although we ended up taking the loss, we played fairly solidly and look forward to hopefully getting another shot at them in the postseason.”
He ended with some final thoughts about the current season following an unusual pandemic season.
“Baseball is an interesting game because it isn’t always the best team on paper that wins, which means a few losses over the course of the season will be inevitable,” he said. “However, as long as we can learn from those losses, and view every day as another opportunity to get better, I think we could do something really special this year!”