Last week, the Duhawk baseball team headed down south for its annual trip to Auburndale, FL. Much to the satisfaction of Duhawk community, the team, led by the core of 11 seniors, had a successful trip winning five out of six games and returning with an overall record of 8-2.
Compared to previous years, this team seems to be more motivated than ever. They understand that having a short memory and going out to make the next play is of vital importance. This invitational exemplifies this teamwork.
On Thursday, March 8, Loras played its first two games of the tournament against St. Joseph’s College. In the first matchup, they held St. Joseph’s at five runs after the fourth inning while the Duhawks continued to run the bases, coming out on top with a final score of 16-5 in the first game and a final score of 3-2 in the second game of the double header.
The next day brought about another win against Rhode Island College. Though the Anchormen left the first inning up 2-0, the Duhawks left the opponents scoreless for the rest of the game. Loras scored three runs in each of the second and fourth innings and one more in the eighth, leading to a Duhawk victory with a final score of 7-2.
Saturday, March 10, held a tighter game for the Duhawks against Illinois Wesleyan. Entering the game, Wesleyan was undefeated boasting a 4-0 record. Loras wasn’t intimidated by the record as they held their own undefeated record of 3-0.
The game began with a pitching duel that lasted four innings. In the fifth inning, Duhawk senior pitcher Nick Spiess held the Wesleyan batters while Loras broke the draw with some timely hits by first-year shortstop Luke Fennelly and junior second baseman Austin Konagel.
The Duhawk bats continued to tack on runs as the Duhawks took a 6-1 lead going into the ninth inning. A late rally by the Titans left the game seemingly up in the air. However, senior closing pitcher Tyler Tomaka came in for his third save of the season leading to a 6-4 Duhawks win.
“I just had the mindset of attacking the strike zone, trusting my stuff, and just taking it one pitch at a time,” said Spiess. “The defense was phenomenal behind me. They made a lot of game changing plays and having a defense like that behind you as a pitcher gives you a lot of confidence.”
Sunday, Loras faced Utica. The Pioneers started strong by rallying six runs in the third inning. The Duhawks trailed behind, and scored four runs the sixth inning. However, their four runs were not enough to take the game, ending with their only loss of the tournament with a final of 4-7 Utica.
The Duhawks ended the tournament on a high note, taking St. Noberts 11-2 on Monday. Loras made four runs in both the third and seventh innings and kept the Green Knights to single runs in the third and fifth innings. The Duhawks finished the game with three runs in the eighth inning.
The team’s success in Florida is one they look to build on.
“We learned a lot about the team this week while playing some very good teams,” said Head Coach Carl Tebon. “We pitched well and had some timely hitting. Defensively we played very well which needs to continue for us to stay in games. I hope getting off to this start will help us grow stronger in pressure situations.”
Senior pitcher Aidan Wojciehowski also reiterated these thoughts.
“We just have to keep the confidence going,” said Wojciehowski. “We are playing some good ball, pitchers feeding off the run support, hitters feeding off of shut-down innings. We will continue to enjoy each day, and ask every guy to do their part to keep this ‘train’ moving.”
Next week the Duhawks will try to keep the momentum rolling as they travel to Greencastle, IN, to continue non-conference action against Trine and Depauw. The Duhawks will also match up against the University of Iowa on Wednesday, March 21, in Iowa City.