Coming off of a four-game winning streak, the Ravens looked to start conference play with a bang, visiting Bluffton for a three-game series. “Typically our goal is to sweep home series and take two out of three on the road,” explained shortstop Nick Butcher.
Instead, the Ravens dropped two of the three contests, starting conference play with a 1-2 record. “We really wanted to sweep the series,” continued Butcher, “but that’s very had to do on the road. We came up a little short this weekend but there were a lot of positives that came from the series.”
Game one was practically over before it started; the Beavers pushed across eight runs in the home half of the first. Bluffton tacked on two more insurance runs before the Ravens were able to get a run across in the fifth inning on an Austin Cain sacrifice fly. The Beavers took game one by a final score of 16-5. Brian Page earned the decision for the Ravens, falling to 0-3 on the year.
A loss like the one suffered in the first game of the series could have been detrimental to the Ravens psyche for the remainder of the series, but the young team displayed resilience, taking the victory in the second game of the series.
AU starter Tucker Waddups improved to 2-0 on the season, throwing 5.1 innings, allowing seven hits, no walks, and striking out six Beavers. The four runs allowed by Waddups were all unearned. Waddups received plenty of run support from the AU bats; the Ravens plated eight in the first two innings.
“We got beat pretty badly in game one,” said Butcher. “We responded immediately in game two by putting up six runs in the first inning. I thought that was huge for us. This team has shown a lot resiliency thus far.”
The Beavers made a furious rally late, but Lane Hanzel struck out the side to give the Ravens a 12-10 victory. Andrew Rolfsen went 3-4 with three RBI and Chuck Kidd drove in two runs on two hits.
“With us being such a young team,” Butcher added, “I think our resiliency is a great thing to have. A lot of our guys have that ‘never give up’ attitude. They never feel like we’re out of it no matter what the score is.”
In the deciding game of the series, the Ravens again jumped out to an early lead in the first. Bluffton pushed across three runs in the home half of the seventh, holding on for a 3-1 victory. Nick Jones started on the hill for AU, throwing 5.2 innings of scoreless ball, allowing only two hits.
While the end result of the series wasn’t what the team had desired, John Becker found many positives from the series. “Our young guys again did a great job of stepping up when we needed them,” said Becker. “We had two freshman starters throw extremely well and our hitters put together quality at-bats.”
The Ravens will travel to Rose-Hulman for a one game stand tonight before hosting a three game series against Mount St. Joseph.
“I’m confident that we will have a great week of practice,” said Becker. “We’ll come out ready to win the series with Mount St. Joseph this weekend.”