After a long off-season in which they introduced a new head coach, the baseball team opened their season with a Sunday doubleheader against Baldwin Wallace. AU dropped both games of Coach Matt Bair’s debut weekend, but showed positive signs in both games.
“I was very encouraged with what we saw on the mound and we defended well,” Coach Bair said in a press release. “We showed signs of life at the plate, but we need to put the ball in play more often. We have to make better decisions in the box.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Ravens received a tremendous outing on the hill but couldn’t push a run across, dropping the pitcher’s duel by a final score of 1-0.
John Becker started and threw 3.2 innings, allowing one run on two hits and three walks, while striking out five. Zach Lane threw 4.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Shortstop Nick Butcher batted leadoff and picked up two hits for the Ravens. Jonathan Willoughby added two more hits from the seven hole. Three more Ravens added base hits. However, AU struck out 13 times and stranded seven base runners, leaving them unable to plate a run.
“I think we played well,” said Butcher. “We were great defensively and awesome on the mound as well.
“If we do a better job getting guys in from scoring position with less than two outs, we will be just fine.”
Game two began in an eerily similar fashion. Seth Eldridge, making his AU debut, went six strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out six. The game was 2-2 entering the seventh, but Baldwin Wallace plated five runs off of the bullpen, picking up a 7-2 victory in a game that was much closer than the score. AU had eight hits, only one less than Baldwin Wallace, but again struck out 13 times, leaving eight runners on base.
“Strikeouts are absolutely killer when trying to manufacture runs,” said Butcher. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance to score.”
The strikeout woes didn’t diminish any optimism for Butcher. “This was only the first weekend,” he said. “This team is still full of great hitters.”
The Ravens will have another chance to bring the bats alive, as they will travel to Louisville, Kentucky for three games this weekend, beginning with a Friday night contests against Spalding.