By Neil Riley, Staff Writer
Denison baseball closed out its first week in April with a pair of dominating performances against Wittenberg after arguably their best string of matches all season.
Following a pair of cancellations of highly anticipated matchups against Marietta and Kenyon, the squad seems to have settled in as it begins its conference schedule.
Over the past six days, the Big Red won two games handily against DePauw at home and dropped one against Ohio Northern in Ada, Ohio. The team also faced Wittenberg in a double header on April 6. The Big Red won the first match (8-0), but narrowly lost the second game (7-5).
In the first game of the doubleheader on March 31 against the DePauw Tigers, the Big Red took advantage of defensive mistakes early. Ryan Loehnert ’15 reached first base on an error from his well-placed sacrifice bunt with two men on in the first inning.
The error allowed Georgie Montes ’15 to score from second and sparked a four-run inning, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Connor Murphy ’14 and Kyle Colgain ’14 slammed the door on the Tigers’ bats, only allowing two runs on seven hits through seven innings.
The Big Red out-hit the Tigers in the second game. Denison had eight runs to DePauw’s four, given up by Ian Barry ’15 and closer Ryan Mulligan ’15.
Denison’s performance was strong from every position in the lineup as seven different batters were able to tally a hit in their seven run effort against DePauw pitching that seemed not to have an answer.
Murphy had much to say about the benefit that the early tough schedule early had for the Big Red squad.
“Coach Mike Deegan often tells us ‘to be the best, you have to play the best,’ and that is completely true,” Murphy said.
“We have a challenging schedule because it helps us grow as a team in order to face the challenge. Baseball is a game played 90 feet at a time though, and our schedule is by no means impossible.”
The matchup against Ohio Northern was another opportunity for the team to grow. Ohio Northern Polar Bear pitching was strong and made few mistakes, giving up only two runs on six hits through nine innings.
In contrast, the Denison defense made four errors throughout the game, three of which came before the end of the second inning.
Some of the upperclassmen had success at the plate, but it was not enough, as the Polar Bears would record six runs to Denison’s two.
The Big Red then hit the road to Springfield, Ohio with a thirst for redemption.
The team defeated the Wittenberg Tigers in the first half of the doubleheader. The top half of the lineup was strong.
Montes scored three times and Loehnert had two hits to contribute to an eight run, seven-inning match, while Murphy hurled a three hit shutout.
The second match proved to be a more challenging battle for the Big Red.
Tiger bats caught fire, slamming 13 hits, despite the fact that they would only pass seven of their runners across the plate.
And the Big Red’s bats were just not enough for the victory as the Big Red were able to put up five runs off of six hits, losing admirably in 7-5 fashion. This was their first conference loss of the season.
The team will face Muskingum and Wittenberg in a triple-header on April 8th. The match against Muskingum will take place at home, while the team will take to the road for the final two matches against Wittenberg.
Photo courtesy of The Denisonian photo staff