Baseball Ends Losing Streak, Begins Conference Play

Photo of Chris Campell
Photo courtesy of Mount Athletics

After 14 consecutive losses, the Mount baseball team finally returned to the winner’s circle with two wins over Central Connecticut State in a four-game set. The wins were just the way the team was hoping to start conference play.

“It feels great to have split our first conference series,” redshirt junior Ryan Owens said of the team’s newfound success. “In all honesty we weren’t too worried about the tough early season stretch. We’ve been playing great baseball lately and it feels great to finally see things coming together at the right time.”

Before the team began conference play, George Washington paid the Mount a visit on Apr. 1 for a non-conference game. The game featured another heart-breaking loss for a team that has had its fair share of close contests.

The Mount took an early 1-0 lead when Owens reached base with a single and proceeded to score on a hit by senior Kory Britton that snuck through the right side of the infield. George Washington would respond in the top of the third inning with a run. The Mount reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the inning when senior Andrew Clow singled and worked his way around the base paths to score on a wild pitch.

The Mount maintained their one-run advantage until the top of the seventh when George Washington’s Matt Cosentino scored and tied the game at two. In the top of eighth, the Colonials took the lead with a wild pitch that ultimately brought in the game-winning run. The 3-2 loss extended the Mount’s losing streak to 14.

The team returned to action the next day, Apr. 2, when they hosted Central Connecticut for a double header. Game one was another close game that the Mount was able to win by a score of 3-2 and Game two was a 4-0 shutout loss.

In game one, Central Connecticut State drew first blood with an unearned run in the top of the third. The Mount responded in the bottom half with three runs of their own. With the bases loaded, Clow hit a sacrifice fly to score one run. Britton was able to drive in another two runs with a double to give the Mount a 3-1 advantage.

In the top of the seventh inning, CCSU scored twice to tie the game at three. Ryan Costello had the clutch single to bring in the game tying run.

Freshman Brian Parreira was the hero in the eighth inning as he drove in the go-ahead run. His RBI single gave the Mount a 4-3 advantage they needed to win their first game since Mar. 1.

Game two lacked any offensive fire power for the Mount, and they dropped a 4-0 decision. CCSU’s Brett Susi only allowed 4 hits in a shutout victory. Two runs in the third and fourth innings were all CCSU needed to emerge victorious.

The two teams returned to action the next day, Apr. 3, for another league game. This time around, the Mount was able to win by a count of 5-1. Jordan Lawson continued his impressive season with four scoreless innings to pick up the win.

The game had a rocky start for the Mountaineers when CCSU’s lead-off hitter hit a homer to make it 1-0. The Mount quickly responded the next inning by posting three runs. Sophomore Tyler Post led the charge with a double to start the inning. Sophomore Zach Call was able to bring him in for a run with a single. Later in the inning, Call scored on an error to give the Mount the lead. Owens padded that lead with a sacrifice fly to score the runner from third.

Junior Jordan Lawson entered the game in the fourth with runners on first and second and no outs. With the help of a strong defense behind him, Lawson was able to cruise on the mound. He finished with four strikeouts and only one hit on his way to being named Northeast Conference Pitcher of the Week.

In the final game of the four game set, the Mount had a late rally, but it ultimately fell short in a 7-6 loss. Freshman Brendan Dabagian led the charge offensively going 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

The Mount was in an early hole after CCSU scored five runs in the top of the second inning and one run in the top of the third. By the fifth inning, the home team was down 7-2. In the sixth inning, Post stepped to the plate and hit a two-run homerun to reduce the deficit to three. It was his first career collegiate home run.

Dabagian sparked another two-run inning for the Mount in the seventh when he hit a single to lead off and later scored as a result of a Clow single. Britton doubled to score Clow, and the CCSU lead was reduced to one.

The Mount had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and two outs. However, Kevin Connolly was able to strike out the final Mount batter and earn the win for Central Connecticut State.

The baseball team was able to mesh and learn more about themselves throughout the course of their first conference series. Afterwards, Owens said, “We have a very good team and we know how good we can be.”

On Tuesday, Apr. 7, the baseball team traveled down to George Mason for yet another non-conference game. The team loss in an 8-0 shutout where they were only able to muster up four hits. Red-shirt sophomore Zach Hostetter doubled for the visiting Mount.

Senior Scott Nickerson started for the Mount and gave up four runs, three of which were earned, in four innings of work. In relief, junior Austin Bonadio and freshman Noah Smith chipped in scoreless outings.

To return to winning and continue on that pace the rest of the season, the team is fully aware of what they must do. Parreira stated afterwards, “The baseball answer is good pitching, minimize errors and to put the bat on the ball more consistently.” He continued to say, “Hitting is contagious so we just need to be more consistent at the plate.”

In their second conference outing, the baseball team split a series at Long Island University Brooklyn. After dropping the first two games of the four game set, the Mount battled back to take the final two games of the series.

The series began on Friday afternoon with a tough 6-5 loss that featured a 2-run lead blown in the bottom of the ninth inning. Senior Andrew Clow and senior Kory Britton doubled for the Mountaineers, while redshirt sophomore Zach Hostetter homered.

It was Hostetter’s homer in the top of the second that put the first run on the board. Three more runs in the third inning gave the Mount a decisive 4-0 lead. However, the Blackbirds would battle back with a single run in the fourth and fifth inning.

In the seventh inning, Clow’s double drove in red-shirt senior Jay Knight to give the Mount a 5-2 lead. In the bottom half, reliever junior Jordan Lawson allowed one run, decreasing the lead to 5-3.

Lawson suffered his second loss of the season when the Blackbirds scored three runs in the final inning for the win. After LIU tied the game at five, Lawson was removed from the game in favor of red-shirt junior Ben Smallenbroek. Smallenbroek was only one out away from sending the game to extra innings, but he threw two wild pitches, which allowed the winning run to score for LIU.

The team returned to action the following day with a twinbill versus the Blackbirds. The Mountaineers dropped the first seven-inning contest, 5-3, but won the second, 2-1.

In game 1, Clow led the charge offensively with two doubles. The visitors scored three runs in the second inning, which was followed up by four runs in the bottom half for the home-standing Blackbirds. Another run in the third inning was all LIU needed to seal the win.

The Mount bats were silenced for the rest of the game due to a stellar pitching performance from LIU’s starter Bobby Maxwell. Maxwell struck out seven and allowed no earned runs in a complete game win.

In game two, redshirt senior Chris Campbell was the force on the hill for the Mount. In six innings of work, Campbell struck out four, and only allowed one run on one hit. This was all the Mountaineers needed in this low-scoring affair.

After sitting and watching the first two games of the series, Campbell knew how he could catch the LIU hitters off guard. Campbell said that it was a “combination of pitches that kept their hitters guessing” and allowed him to be successful.

Mountaineer hitters were happy to see Campbell perform so well on the mound. After the game, Britton stated, “He had hitters off balance with his off speed and worked quick to get us back in the dugout to get some runs for support.”

The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when Britton singled and worked his way around the base paths to score on a single to left field. LIU responded in the bottom of half with a run of their own to tie the game at one.

The Mount took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. Clow hit his third double of the twinbill and was brought in for a run with a Hostetter single. Lawson entered the game in the seventh inning and recorded the save in this one-run victory.

The final game of the series was a 12-2 victory for the Mountaineers on Sunday. Britton led the charge offensively in the final game of the series going 4-for-5 with a home run and 4 RBI for the visitors.

Britton’s three run home run in the top of the first inning got the Mount off to a quick start. In third inning, the Mount had a massive offensive output that created an 11-0 advantage over the Blackbirds. The team batted around the lineup, which allowed Britton to post two doubles and Clow two singles in one inning. Brendan Dabagian also doubled in the inning, while Knight provided a clutch 2-run RBI single.

Clow and Britton were a consistent offensive force throughout the series. The two heavy hitters credited their aggressive approach for their success. “Andrew and I both had an aggressive approach and attacked the fastballs early in counts,” Britton said.

As the bats were hard at work, junior Chad Diehl was cruising on the mound with four strikeouts in seven innings of shutout pitching.

With their conference record now sitting at 4-4, the Mount looks ahead to a non-conference game versus UMBC on Wednesday, followed by the chance to win their first conference series this weekend at defending NEC champion Bryant.

For the Mount to beat Bryant, they will have to have a strong defensive effort and continue to be aggressive at the plate. “Bryant likes to takes advantage of mistakes,” Britton said. “We can’t have any.”

Josh Karlheim

Staff Writer for The Mountain Echo

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