WU baseball shatters steals record in win over Principia College

| Associate Editor

Freshman Kyle Billig makes contact against Illinois College on March 22. Billig stole five bases this weekend against Principia College to move within one of tying the single-season team record of 29.Josh Goldman | Student Life

Freshman Kyle Billig makes contact against Illinois College on March 22. Billig stole five bases this weekend against Principia College to move within one of tying the single-season team record of 29.

The Washington University baseball team (23-13, 3-3) ‘stole’ a victory over Principia College on Saturday, breaking a school record in the process.

Freshman Kyle Billig had five steals as the Bears ran rampant against the Panthers. The team stole a season-high 15 bases in a 14-4 mercy-rule win.

“I’ve scouted [Principia] and kind of knew what to expect and I knew we were going to be able to take advantage of that matchup with our speed,” head coach Steve Duncan said. “There aren’t many catchers that we’ve played against that can shut our running game down; we’ve played against two or three that have, but for the most part, we know we can run on anybody.”

The Bears now have a total of 106 swipes this season with 10 games remaining on the schedule, and they have eclipsed the team’s previous single-season record of 93.

“We try to play aggressive in all aspects of the game. We try to be aggressive when we’re pitching, we try to be aggressive on the bases and we try to be aggressive at the plate,” Duncan said. “It is an attitude that we have, and we’ve been able to turn that attitude into a lot of runs. [Saturday’s game] was a great example of it, because we stole more bases than we have all year in any single game.”

Sophomore Taylor Berman took the mound, pitching a seven-inning complete game while giving up four runs, two of which were earned, and nine hits. Though he got the win, pushing his season record to 4-1, Berman struggled early.

Principia jumped ahead in the first inning on a two-RBI double, and then scored again on a throwing error. The Panthers managed four hits in the first, but were held to just five through the rest of the game.

“A big part of it was getting behind hitters and having to throw them good pitches that were easy to hit,” Berman said. “I figured it out; it was a mechanics thing for me, sort of a timing thing, but I struggled because I couldn’t get ahead of guys, which is something that has been happening over the last couple [games].”

The Bears got two back in the bottom of the first. After Billig was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning, he stole both second and third base. Junior Brandon Rogalski then walked and stole second, and both runners scored on two wild pitches in consecutive at-bats.

“We watched [Principia’s starting pitcher] warming up in the bullpen and we were able to see that he was really slow from the stretch and he kind of tipped off when he was pitching home,” Billig said.

Wash. U. stole five bases in the first, and swiped another four in a two-run third inning. Senior Matt Bayer’s double with runners on second and third plated two runs and gave the Bears the lead.

Billig, whose 28 steals is one short of Wash. U.’s single-season record, attributed the team’s success on the basepaths to Duncan’s scouting. The Red and Green stole at least one base in five of seven innings.

“Every time we got a runner with speed on first, we knew that he could easily end up on second or even third,” Billig said. “Once we had runners in scoring position, it was just a matter of finding a way to get them in.”

When Berman slipped while fielding a ground ball, his throwing error led to an unearned run in the next inning.

In the fifth, the Bears jumped ahead on senior Travis May’s RBI-double before freshman Andrew Dwoskin’s three-run homer to left center broke open the game.

“Once [Andrew] Dwoskin hit that, it just kind of lit the fire underneath us,” Billig said. “We knew that we were capable of beating this team and putting up a lot of runs, so [the homerun] just kind of motivated us, got us going, and we were able to pull out the win”

Rogalski and senior catcher Joe Noon each tripled in the sixth, and the Red and Green tacked on six runs over the next two innings to force a mercy rule victory.

Earlier in the week, on Thursday, April 14, Wash. U. got a 5-4 victory over Webster University. The starting pitcher, sophomore Stephen Bonser, went nine innings and allowed just three runs, while Rogalski provided a game-winning two-RBI double in the seventh.

Wash. U. will play a doubleheader against the Gorloks Monday afternoon.