Offensive strengths to lead men’s baseball team through the remainder of season
Adaptability has been this season’s challenge for the Duhawk baseball team, and not just based on opposing teams. With the unpredictable weather, many games have been rescheduled, altering the schedule for the Duhawks.
This past weekend, instead of playing at Petrakis, the team traveled with a limited varsity roster across state lines to take on the Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves. The double header took place on Friday, and entering the games, the Duhawks had a record of 16-6 (5-2), while the Prairie Wolves were 7-16 (3-9).
From the beginning, game one of the double header was a pitching duel. The teams exchanged scoreless frames until first-year shortstop Luke Fennelly scored on a fielder choice groundout by senior right fielder Danny Weis.
The Duhawks were not able to score again until the seventh inning when junior catcher Cole Thompson hit an opposite field single. This scored junior Austin Konagel who tripled in the previous at-bat. The Duhawks had one more run, ending the game 3-0 in their favor.
The pitchers continued to dominate the field throughout the game. Senior Brad Schwind went 7.0 shutout innings, striking out six, and senior Aidan Wojciehowski came in to finish the game and struck out three. Schwind earned his sixth victory of the season (6-0) in seven starts (the Duhawks have won all seven starts). Schwind is also second in the IIAC with 52 strikeouts. Wojciehowski continued the success in his season; in 12 relief appearances, he has maintained a 0.40 ERA and an OBP (opponent batting average of .104).
“From the beginning of the year, our program embodied a new mindset and work ethic,” Schwind said. “With the pitching staff specifically, we adopted a training program that has forced us to keep our arms strong and in shape since the first day of practice. As for in-game situations, being a senior has helped. Knowing I have a finite number of pitches left for the purple and gold helps me remain focused on one pitch at a time and execute that pitch to the best of my ability. In addition, this is the best defense I’ve played for here at Loras. Being able to pitch aggressively and knowing that they have my back gives me so much more confidence, not to mention the run support has been unbelievable.”
“To keep the success going, I just try to enjoy every second of each practice and game,” Wojciehowski said. “Bus rides, wins, loses, I enjoy it all. Baseball is such a game of highs and lows that if you can focus on enjoying it rather than the emotions of being too up or down, the team will more times than not be successful.”
n the second game, the bats erupted for the Duhawks, pushing 18 runs across the plate in a slaughter-rule shortened second game.
The top of the inning started off with a bang as senior first basemen Ryan Koester hit his third home run of the season — a two run blast — tying him for the conference lead.
The Prairie Wolves responded in the second inning by plating a run, but the Duhawks came back scoring two more making the score 4-1.
Scoring four more in the third and five in both the fifth and sixth innings, the bats overwhelmed the pitching of the Prairie Wolves.
Throughout the game, six Duhawks had multiple hits, giving the team 16 hits in total.
“So far this year, especially the Nebraska series, throughout the lineup, guys have had a good approach going up to the plate. We’ve been patient in the box waiting for good pitches to hit and doing damage with them,” Koester said.
On the short trip, the Duhawks improved to 18-6 overall, and 7-2 in conference play.
“We had a great week going 5-1. In our conference, it is tough,” said Head Coach Carl Tebon. “Our guys performed very well. Many more challenges to come as a lot of our season still remains.”
He and the Duhawks are scheduled to take on Luther on Friday, April 20 in Decorah. The first pitch is at 3 p.m.