You can’t win them all, but the #7-ranked Denison baseball team has been pretty close during the course of this season.
Coming into their doubleheader against #15 Wooster, the Big Red were winners of nineteen of their last twenty, gaining national attention in the process.
Against the Fighting Scots however, the team didn’t click the same way they had all year.
The Big Red were swept in the doubleheader, losing the first game by a final score of 16-9, and the second 6-5.
The sixteen runs were the most the Big Red have allowed this season.
The losses dropped the Big Red to 11-3 in North Coast Athletic Conference last year, a game behind 11-1 Wooster.
Second baseman Anthony Ruggieri ‘21 spoke to how the losses against Wooster helped the Big Red.
“We learned a lot from the Wooster series. They are clearly a solid team but they are nothing that we are not. We said after the losses that this series would not define our team, instead, how we respond would be what defines us. When we lost to Johns Hopkins in Florida, a similar message was sent, how would we respond. We had a great opportunity to play Baldwin Wallace after and got a much need win and a great response to our Wooster series,” Ruggieri said.
The team responded nicely to the losses, topping a strong Baldwin Wallace team that came into the game 23-10 by a score of 9-7.
The Big Red jumped out to a 7-0 lead, scoring four in the bottom of the first and three in the second.
The big blow came off of the bat of Brian McAuliffe ‘20, who hit a towering two-run homerun to right field in the second to extend the Big Red lead.
Outfielder Cam Ferren ‘22 also had a strong day, recording two hits including a double and adding three RBI.
All nine hitters reached base at least once throughout the contest.
The team this year has largely been led by underclassmen. The team only consistently starts one senior, designated hitter Grady Paine.
Ruggieri spoke to how the underclassmen have been able to take on such a large role.
“Underclassman have taken over a major role on the team this year and several different young guys that had little experience going into this year stepped up in many ways. This is due to the culture on the team,” Ruggieri said.
“Last year, young guys that didn’t see the field much learned as much as possible from the upperclassmen and how they played the game. Additionally, through practices last year, we know at some point our time would come where we had to step up. With the great leadership from current and past players, as well as great coaching while we might not have been playing prepared us to step up and take over roles needed for our success this year. Personally, I had a great opportunity to watch Jack Blanchard, our shortstop last year, play and learn so much from him. He demonstrated exactly what a great team player is and I did my best to learn as much as possible from him and implement his values into the team this year.”
He also discussed how previous iterations of the team have paved the way for the success this year’s team has experienced.
“The players that came before us allowed us to take this next step. For years now, previous players have put us in a better position every single year. Last year’s squad put Denison baseball on a national level. With our team value of kaizen (continuous and never ending improvement) we expected to take more steps forward to reach our goal. Last year set high standards but it was our job to continue to set new and higher expectations,” Ruggieri said.
As for the rest of the season, the team has big goals, but realizes that they can only worry about themselves.
“Our goal for the rest of the season is to play the best baseball of the year late. We know that we still haven’t played our best baseball yet.
When everything comes together, we will be a hard team to beat and we want that to be late in the year,” Ruggieri said.
Up next for the Big Red is road test at Oberlin College on Wednesday, May 1.