Baseball sweeps doubleheader to reach 20 wins
In the first game of the day, Wash. U. broke open a large lead with a six-run fourth inning highlighted by junior Kyle Billig’s bases-loaded triple off the fence. The Bears scored in six of the first seven innings, and seven different players crossed the plate in the game.
Senior Stephen Bonser, meanwhile, impressed in his first trip to the mound in two weeks, allowing only two runs (both unearned) in seven strong innings. This performance was encouraging after he allowed eight runs (six earned) in just 3.1 innings in his last start, which raised his ERA nearly a full run.
“Bonser was fresh,” head coach Steve Duncan noted. “He’d had a couple weeks off, which I think he needed, and he looked to be back to being his normal self today. That’s what Bonser does on a normal basis, so that was great to see.”
The second game of the twin bill was similar to its predecessor: the Bears took an early lead and used a big fourth inning—this time scoring four runs in the frame—to put the game out of reach. The Red and Green didn’t have a single extra base hit in this game but rather kept putting men on base—18 in just seven innings—and knocking them home.
Sophomore Dom Quaranta improved his season record to 5-0 by hurling five innings of shutout ball, surrendering only four runners and striking out seven. Quaranta “has been hot,” Duncan praised. “He’s got all his pitches working, his fastball and slider especially.”
The Bears’ middle of the order turned in its best offensive performance of the season: No. 3 hitter Billig hit 6-8, scored seven times and added four RBIs and three stolen bases while sophomore Chris Lowery chipped in a 5-5, three-run, three-RBI day from the cleanup spot.
“Kyle Billig—this is his third season now, and he’s already had a phenomenal career, and today was maybe his best day ever,” Duncan said. “They just really couldn’t get him out all day.”
On the combination of Billig and Lowery, Duncan added, “Those two guys are kind of our anchors, and they’ve been consistent pretty much all year, but today was a pretty special day for each of them.”
The Bears have had double-digit hit totals in six of the past seven games, with the only exception a nine-hit effort in the 9-0 win, and after averaging only 3.6 runs per game in the 11 previous games, the Bears have boosted their scoring to 8.9 runs a game during the current hot streak.
“It’s really a matter of plate discipline, guys going up there with a certain pitch in mind that they’re looking for,” Duncan said, “and they’re really only swinging if they get that kind of pitch, so that’s what we’ve done a lot better job at. We’re not swinging at bad pitches as much as we were earlier in the season.”
The Red and Green also enjoyed a successful day on the base paths with seven stolen bases in the second game—the second-highest total this year. Most notably, sophomore Noah Doppelt had a successful caper of home on a daring double steal in the first game.
“We ran the bases very well,” said Billig, who is familiar with excellent baserunning as the Bears’ all-time leader in stolen bases. “I think as a team, like as a whole, we were more aggressive than we previously have been, and when you’re able to get runners in scoring position and get the hitters a chance to drive those runs in, then I think that was something that contributed greatly to our success.”
Wash. U. must translate that success to the road in the coming weeks. Although the Bears are 12-4 at home, they have a middling 8-7 record away from the familiar confines of Kelly Field and play six of their next seven on the road.
“We just need to…keep doing what we’ve been doing over the last couple games,” Billig said. “I think if we play the way we’ve been playing, we should be OK.”