Bears drop 4 of 5 in conference tournament

| Sports Editor

Senior Jeremy Rogoff delivers a pitch in the season opener on Feb. 27. The Bears compiled a 4-1 record in UAA conference play and swept a doubleheader against Dominican University on Tuesday. (Christina Kelly | Student Life)

After a hot 5-1 start to the season, the Washington University baseball team was looking at the annual University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament with high hopes.

The tournament, which took place over spring break in Florida, was to be a chance for the Bears to truly test their skills. Instead, the team dropped four straight games, coming away with a 1-4 conference record.

The opener on Tuesday, March 6, against Emory University reflected many of the problems that the Bears faced the entire week. The team gave up five runs in the first inning alone, en route to an 18-14 loss. Senior Nick Vom Brock, however, tied a tournament record with seven RBI in the game.

“It’s good hitting conditions in general [at the stadium], there’s a low mound, the outfield fence is a little shallow, but for the most part, just as pitchers, we were leaving the balls up, weren’t making adjustments, and walking a lot of people,” junior pitcher Bryce Hrovat said.

This disproportionate amount of offense carried on into the next day’s match-up against Brandeis University, and the Bears lost 13-11. Relief pitcher H.T. Flanagan got the loss, giving up six runs, only three of them earned, in 6 2/3 innings.

“We didn’t play up to the expectations we had for ourselves, both defensively and pitching-wise, and that overshadowed how well we did [on offense],” sophomore outfielder Brandon Rogalski said. “We actually lead the tournament in batting average. We batted .386 as a team, which is really unheard of, but our ERA was 10.6.”

A third-straight loss came at the hands of Case Western Reserve University on Thursday. The 9-8 extra-innings defeat was to be the first game of a doubleheader, but rain limited the Bears to just one.

The game was rescheduled to Saturday, but continued rain on Friday eliminated the Bears’ chances of playing Brandeis for the second time.

“If anything, the rain really helped us towards the end [of the week] because we had to use a lot of pitchers because of the long games,” Hrovat said. “We were just kind of struggling with our arms by the end. People were all on short rest and…We were able to regroup.”

The makeup game against Case Western Reserve on Saturday was one for the history books. The Red and Green lost 24-15, giving up the most runs in a game since 1987. The team needed six pitchers just to get through the game, and committed six errors, which led to six unearned runs.

“Even though our pitchers were giving up a lot of hits, [on defense], we weren’t making a ton of errors, but almost all the errors we made were very costly or at very inopportune moments,” Rogalski said. In the loss to Case, Rogalski also recorded seven RBI and was just a single shy of hitting for the cycle.

In the very last game of the tournament, Wash. U. got its first win, a 16-14 victory against the University of Rochester, but an error-laden fourth inning almost led to another loss.

“Every time we make an error, we make [the game] twice as hard for our pitchers,” junior infielder Travis May said. “Our pitchers are great, we have three of the best starters in the league, but we made probably five errors a game, so it’s hard for them to recover when that happens.”

The poor showing at Sanford, Fla., did little to damage the team’s approach to playing. On Tuesday, the Bears swept a doubleheader against Dominican University, 5-4 in the first game and 12-1 in the second.

“Part of being an athlete is just having a short memory. You’ve got to forget when you play poorly and just remember that you’ve got the tools to get the job done,” Hrovat said. “Having that mentality going out there every day, you’re going to be successful.”