Baseball season is back. After a long offseason, the Duhawks got back on the diamond last weekend in the RussMatt Invitational in Auburndale, FL. Loras went 3-3 overall in the tournament. The Duhawks won their first double-header against Alma College by the scores of 11-2 and 5-0.
They then lost two in a row to 24th ranked Aurora University, 6-5 and 1-0. Both games went into extra innings. The Duhawks then beat Beloit College 12-4 and finished up with a 6-1 loss against Thomas More College. The offense played solid, scoring 5.7 runs per game. Their defense also excelled with Loras pitchers posting a combined ERA of 3.00 over the six-game tournament.
Senior Ben Cottrell was named IIAC athlete of the week for throwing a complete-game 3-hitter in Loras’ 1-0 season-opening win over Alma on March 1. He walked one and struck out seven.
Heading into the tournament, coach Carl Tebon had one main focus when it came to expectations for the season.
“I think our big thing this year is all about scoring runs,” he said. “I think if we can score enough runs we should be alright. A team goal of ours is to score four or five runs and hopefully our pitching staff will be able to hold up.”
The Duhawks are looking to improve on their offense which struggled at times last year. Of the nine teams in the IIAC, the Duhawks finished 6th in runs scored and 8th in batting average.
“We lost some pretty good players from last year’s team but it’s going to be a lineup where we’re going to have to mix and match,” Tebon said. “Some of our leaders are going to have to be Mike Canevello, Mike Pudlo, Nick Battalini and Jordan Ries. Those types of guys are going to have to be the guys that really stand up and swing the bat well for us.”
Defensively, the Duhawks are looking to build on their success of last season. Loras finished 2nd in ERA and 4th in opponent’s batting average.
“I think our pitching is probably the strongest part of our team right now,” Tebon said. You look at Ben Cottrell, Will Petrosky, and Jeremy Gerardy. These guys have a lot of experience for us and need to pitch well. We also have guys like Adam Schwoebel, Patrick Walsh, Connor Schreck, Jake Norton and Donny Baran out of the bullpen. There’s a group of guys there (who) can really pitch and there’s going to be a lot of innings for them, that’s for sure.”
The Duhawks begin conference play on March 22 at Central College. Coach Tebon has had a good amount of success in the conference throughout his tenure at Loras. Under Tebon, the Duhawks have finished in the top four in the conference seven times and won their first conference championship since 1952 in 2009. He talked about what his team has to focus on for them to win this year’s conference title.
“We’re going to have to pitch well in all situations and score some runs,” Tebon said. “Last year, I think we were in 14 two run or one run games and something like seven or eight one run games. It’s very competitive. We have to be prepared, come up with the big hit, we can’t have that crucial error or mistake at certain times. I think that being prepared is going to be the biggest thing for us right now.”