Bears take 2 of 3 games in rain-shortened weekend
April showers bring May flowers, but March showers bring canceled baseball games. Such is the case for the Washington University baseball team, playing only three of a scheduled six games this weekend.
While games on Friday and Sunday were canceled, the Bears managed to play a triple-header on Saturday against the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, taking two of three.
“We really need to play as much as we could, but last year, we got in 35 [games], and that got us to the tournament,” head coach Ric Lessmann said. “We’re kind of in the same boat again this year. We’re probably a little bit behind I would suspect, and you just have no idea [about the weather].”
The first game of the day was a complete pitcher’s duel. Senior Jeremy Rogoff threw an eight-inning complete game shutout, striking out nine players and giving up five hits. The Pioneers’ starting pitcher Brandon Byrne had a similar outing, giving up one run in seven innings.
“It was probably the best I’ve felt on the mound in a long time. I built off of my last outing and I think the key was that I was able to get all of my pitches working early, Rogoff said. “A lot of times it takes me two or three or four innings just to figure out what pitches I can throw that day, and I guess I made sure to be really relaxed on the mound and have confidence in what I threw.”
Both teams were held scoreless until extra innings, in which junior Matt Bayer led off the eighth with a single. After two bunts, one muffed by the Pioneers and one a single, catcher Joe Noon won the game with a bases-loaded hit.
The Bears had no similar pitching success in the middle game, losing 9-3. Starting pitcher David Liebman gave up five runs in 4.1 innings pitched.
There was a scary moment in the fifth inning, as Liebman was hit in the head with a line drive and had to leave the game.
With the score 6-3 entering the seventh inning, UWP put the game out of reach with three more runs.
Woes continued into the third game. Starting pitcher Adam Merzel lasted just three innings, giving up six earned runs.
“Generally, as a team, we have to do a better job of being focused the second we get on the mound. If we lose focus, we don’t throw strikes. When we don’t throw strikes, bad things happen,” Rogoff said. “If we come out, and we throw strikes right away and try to establish all of our pitches, it puts the other team on their heels.”
Down 7-3 late in the game, the Bears mounted a comeback. Scoring two runs in the fifth inning, the Red and Green took the lead with a five-run sixth. Bayer had a double in both innings, including a three-RBI hit in the sixth to take a 10-7 advantage.
“In those situations that I came up [to bat], I wanted to make sure that I did my part to help the team. Everybody else behind me, in the first game…after I got the hit, and everybody before me, when they got on base before I got the hit, they did their part,” Bayer said. “I don’t think I did any more than anybody else did, but we all, at that point, just didn’t want to lose.”
Zachary Cain pitched a scoreless seventh inning, getting a win not only for himself but also for the Bears.
“I think we’re at that point now where we’re going to have to run a pretty good string [of wins]. It doesn’t all the time,” Lessmann said. “We play a tough schedule and I think our goal right now is to win between 25 and 30 games to have a chance [at making the playoffs].”
While the canceled games will be rescheduled later in the season, Wash. U. travels to Bloomington, Ill. to take on Beloit College for a doubleheader on Friday, and then another at Webster University on Saturday.