The Duhawks Baseball team concluded their season at 14-23, ending with a split series with Central this past Saturday, May 7, at Petrakis Park.
They faced Wartburg the weekend prior, Friday, April 29, and Sunday, May 1, falling 0-4 against the 19th ranked team. Despite some rough patches on the mound, the Duhawks did make a strong showing at the plate which kept games one and three close, 4-3 and 5-3.
“We fought. We kept grinding away. Every time we got down, we got up. I think our guys got better that weekend for sure playing against them (Wartburg),” said head coach Carl Tebon. “We just didn’t have the right hit, the right pitch. I think weather played a little bit into it.”
With the Knights behind them, the Duhawks then fell 8-7 to the Dutch before they struck gold with a 16-5 victory in game two. Central earned eight runs against senior Patrick Walsh before he was relieved by fellow senior Kyle Hoffman. The Duhawks battled back with a strong showing at the plate, the rally starting in the fifth inning where they scored two to make it 8-4. A series of base hits got them within a single run but couldn’t manage a lead.
The Duhawks kept their offensive streak alive in game two almost easily. Most notably, first-year Danny Paluch and Austin Konagel and junior Luke Leibforth each went 3-4. Sophomore Ryan Koester and junior Tony Heiser each also homered for Loras, Heiser with his first and Koester the first to reach double digits for home runs since 2001.
Prior to Friday’s games, Coach Tebon organized an alumni golf outing for roughly 50 former players before the series, a program traditional that goes back almost ten years now.
“I just want guys to come back; I want guys to be part of the program. I want guys to see us play, to keep them involved as much as I can with our alumni. Those guys do, they all come back; it’s great to see.”
The strong backing seemed to be just what the Duhawks needed for that strong offensive push.
After such a strong showing on Friday, the Dutch came back and kept games three and four close, splitting 1-1, the Dutch taking game three 4-3 and the Duhawks taking four 2-1. This split was the conclusion to the Duhawk season which left them in seed seven, a single slot away from making the IIAC Tournament for the first time in five years.
“We just didn’t do it this year,” said Tebon. “It’ll be interesting next year; we’ll have a good group of players next year coming back, so we’ll probably have some high expectations. Hopefully we can achieve them. We have a lot of talent coming back, and hopefully we improve. We will improve next year, that’s for sure.”
The Duhawks will graduate six seniors: Alex Steines, Patrick Walsh, Lucas Jacque, Kyle Hoffman, Nick Petruzzi, and Adrian Nunez. As a personal traditional, Coach Tebon plans to take the guys out for dinner and a round of golf this week, following the end of six great careers. With them graduates a group that brings leadership and morale to the program that will be greatly missed. They will, however, be added to an unbreakable network of committed alumni who will undoubtedly offer support in years to come.
“I appreciate those guys (the seniors) doing so much for our program the last four years, and that’s not just on the field, it’s the off the field stuff that I don’t think a lot of people see. There’s so much that they have done for our program, working camps and hitting leagues. The commitment is unbelievable, by any student athlete, and these guys were above and beyond. They always stepped up, and whenever I asked them, they were always there, and I appreciated that so much.”