It deemed to be a promising opening weekend for the Duhawks, as they went 4-2 over five days at the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational.
The Duhawks started off the invitational with a double-header against Saint Mary’s University. Senior Will Petrosky took the mound for the start of game one, but allowed SMU to take an early 3-0 lead. The Duhawks were quick to answer when it was their turn to bat, bringing in two runs, to cut the deficit to 4-2. The Duhawks would come back to tie the game at five after a solo-homer by senior Anthony Kennedy flew over the left field fence. An Anthony Flattery single in the bottom of the ninth scored Nolan Ritter from third, giving the Duhawks the 6-5 walk-off win.
The second game of the double header didn’t go as smoothly for the Duhawks as they fell 1-0, despite allowing no earned runs. St. Mary’s winning run was scored on a throwing error in the sixth inning.
“To improve the outcome, we could have tweaked up a few miscues on the defensive side of the ball,” said sophomore second baseman Luke Leibforth. “It was a solid back-and-forth game throughout, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall your way.”
The Duhawks took on MSOE for game three of the weekend, giving junior pitcher Patrick Walsh the mound. Walsh lasted six innings, only allowing one run and striking out five batters. Things were looking up for the Duhawks on the offensive end of the field as well, as they handed MSOE a 12-7 loss, walking away with 15 hits for the game.
The Duhawks kept their winning-streak alive with their next two games against Beloit College and Waynesburg. The Duhawks took down Beloit, 7-5, and Waynesburg, 11-9.
In both games, the Duhawks proved that they can battle back after being down and take the game in the final innings.
“We are playing with a lot of confidence out there even though we are a young team,” said Leibforth. “We have a faster style of play this year that wears out the other team. To keep the streaks going we have to just stay focused, come ready to play every day, and keep the momentum rolling.”
In the final game of the invitational, the Duhawks took on Wheaton College. The Duhawks did not have the rhythm they had in their previous three-game win streak, and struggled from both the mound and the plate. Loras walked seven batters and scored only one run on six hits and dropped the game 11-1, closing the weekend out with a loss.
The Duhawks finished the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational with a 4-2 record.
“I think these games have set the tone for the season because we have learned a lot with all our wins and losses,” said Walsh. “Every game we have fought our way back to a victory and that’s going to help us so much in the future. Hopefully, we won’t need to have comebacks for every win, though.”
After graduating all three starting outfielders last year, the question remained whether the Duhawks would be able to fill those positions in time for the start of the season.
“The outfield has performed great,” said Walsh. “They learned a lot from the seniors that graduated last year and they are showing that so far. All of them are hitting and fielding extremely well.”
The men will look to build on their promising start as head to Jacksonville, IL, this weekend to take on MacMurray College and Hamline University.