SU baseball splits opener
Posted: February 18, 2013
WINCHESTER — Kevin Anderson has not been shy in talking about the young talent on his team this season.
With 24 freshmen alone on his 49-man roster, the Shenandoah University baseball coach knows that the Hornets’ success this year will rely heavily on how the new faces perform on the big stage.
Based on the season-opening doubleheader – one of 13 on the schedule this year for the Hornets – against Misericordia Saturday, Anderson’s optimism is understandable.
After squandering an impressive pitching performance from senior Nick McMahon in a 2-1 loss in Game 1, SU bounced back with a 5-3 victory in Game 2 thanks largely in part to a handful of newcomers.
Freshman left-hander Darrell Thompson started and didn’t allow a hit over 22⁄3 innings, fellow freshman Ryan Mossman came on in relief to get the first win of his career and classmate Cameron Lundmark took the mound with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and got a ground out to end the game.
And if that wasn’t enough, freshman John Wilt, making his first-ever start in left field, made two beautiful defensive plays — making a sliding catch in left-center field with the bases loaded in the third inning and then throwing out a runner at home for the third out in the fourth inning — to help keep the Hornets in the game.
“A lot of guys came up big in different ways [in the second game],” Anderson said. “John Wilt made those two big plays for us and that was the first time he’s ever played left field in his life. And the guys who came in to pitch competed. We’re going to be relying heavily, especially on the mound, on a lot of young players.
“The way we look at it, they’re not freshmen anymore. We have all fall with them, which is completely different being a spring sport rather than a fall sport, so we had a good month of October practice and what we told our guys is they’re not freshmen anymore.”
It wasn’t just the youngest underclassmen that stepped up for SU (1-1).
Sophomore third baseman Michael Paul got the Hornets on board early with an RBI single in the first inning to plate classmate J.J. McDaniel and fellow sophomore Matt Riegler relieved Mossman in the sixth inning and managed to work out of a bases-loaded jam to preserve a 5-2 lead.
“We have tremendous depth, senior through freshmen, and I think a lot of guys are going to have to step up for us this year,” said Mossman, who allowed two runs on five hits over 22⁄3 innings to earn the win. “It’s good to get that first win out of the way, but 13 splits [of doubleheaders] won’t get us anywhere. We can play better.”
Senior designated hitter Nick Beall showed why he was a preseason D3baseball.com All-American selection with a 2-run double in the fourth inning, part of four runs the Hornets pushed across to break a 1-1 tie and give their pitchers some breathing room.
“I think we have a very good hitting team as a whole,” said Wilt, who went 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored in the win. “We really hit the ball hard and that leads to big things.”
Misericordia (1-1) made things interesting in the seventh inning, loading the bases on an error, a single and a hit batsman. Pinch hitter Kyle Lindsay then roped an RBI single up the middle to make it 5-3, forcing Anderson to bring in Lundmark from his shortstop position to relieve Riegler and get leadoff-hitter Chris Boroch to groundout to third to end the game.
“It got a little dicey there at the end, but we made a play to end the game and get the win,” Anderson said.
It was a much-needed victory after the Hornets felt like they squandered an opportunity in the first game, which only took 92 minutes to complete.
The only senior in the starting rotation, McMahon pitched what Anderson called “a gem” of a game, scattering five hits over six innings while striking out four and allowing just two earned runs.
But the SU offense struggled against Misericordia ace Evan Robaczewski, who went all seven innings, allowing just six hits while striking out six.
Trailing 2-0 heading into their last at bat, the Hornets mounted a two-out rally as designated hitter Andrew Creamer doubled to right, Dan Powers singled to left and right fielder Ricky Pardo roped an RBI single to right.
But with the tying run on 90 feet away, Lundmark flew out to end the game.
“I was really proud of the guys the way they battled back, we were in a position to tie it up or go ahead,” Anderson said. “I think we were over-swinging early in the game. We were facing an outstanding pitcher and we did not hit many balls hard. But we didn’t give up. And then we put that behind us and swung the bats better in the second game.”
— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at firstname.lastname@example.org
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