Just Getting Started.
This is the Denison men’s baseball team motto this year that the rest of the country might want to consider it before taking the field against the Big Red.
A powerful motto for a dominant team. This year’s squad is only getting better as their season progresses. They most recently improved their winning streak to 14 games, raising their record to 24-2 (8-0 North Coast Athletic Conference).
The Big Red exploded offensively with a convincing 11-2 road win over Marietta on Thursday, April 11 before making quick work of Hiram in a Saturday conference doubleheader on the road.
Anthony Ruggieri ‘21 is among a number of underclassmen who have stepped up into bigger roles this season. Ruggieri has taken over duties at second base in his second year with the Big Red, and he is apart of the young core that will be doing damage in years to come for this program.
“The biggest challenge transitioning to an everyday second baseman was being able to have consistent confidence everyday in the lineup. In the middle infield, we graduated very talented players. It was clear that we would have a young middle infield that had to perform at a high level to maintain and continuously improve the talent that was graduated,” Ruggieri said.
With Ruggieri at second base and fellow sophomore, Max Lahn, at shortstop, it’s clear that that the middle infield is in excellent hands.
Despite the stellar sophomore seasons each of these two young men have put together — (and I don’t use that word lightly) — they are far from the only major contributors to the only regular contributors for the team this year.
Lahn ‘21 is leading the team in batting with an astounding .468 average and is second to only Will Krushena ‘20 in slugging at .638.
When asked how he has made such an incredible jump between his first and second year, Lahn credited the team’s offseason work that focused in on simplifying things at the plate: “We focused a lot in the fall on approaches at the plate. The idea of knowing what you are trying to do at the plate and looking for one pitch and when you get that pitch to execute. That has really helped me dial in and have a plan when I am hitting”, Lahn said.
But any time you have a baseball team performing at such a high level for an extended period of time as the Big Red have this season, there must be steady production from the entire team. That is exactly what the case has been for Denison, especially this past weekend.
While Hiram is nowhere nearly as talented as the Big Red this season, there were still absolutely no signs of let-up from the Denison in their doubleheader sweep on Saturday. The offense backed a couple of fine pitching performances from Taylor Perrett ‘21 and Danny Brackman ‘19 with a combined 27 runs on 36 hits in the two wins. Neither contest was ever very competitive, and the Big Red rolled by scores of 11-2 and 16-6, respectively.
I could go up and down the lineup and list off stand-out performances from every single part of the Big Red lineup. Any time a team combine for 36 hits in two games, everyone must be chipping in.
No matter who is on the mound, the Big Red are digging in and making opposing pitchers work every single time they step into the box.
Ruggieri comments on how this year’s team has been able to make sacrifices and come together for the greater good of the team.
“The largest reason for our success this year is everyone accepting and dominating their role on the team. It is clear that everyone on the team has a different role that all has a huge impact on every game and the overall season. Offensively, we play unselfish team baseball. Defensively, we make the routine play and do not allow extra bases. The pitching staff has been lights out. We have several pitchers that can enter the game in any inning and dominate the game. Finally, the bench play has been extraordinary this year. The players on the bench serve a huge role in the game,” Ruggieri said.
Based on that assessment, there aren’t any glaring holes on this team. Not a single one. They play an exciting brand of baseball and have tons of fun doing it.
After a doubleheader on Tuesday at home against Kenyon, the Big Red will be back on the road again for a pair of games on Saturday, April 20 at Ohio Wesleyan. They say they are Just Getting Started. Only time will tell if anyone can put a stop to the well-oiled machine that is the Big Red baseball program this season.