Despite a six-game losing streak during their week-long 2018 debut in California, Bates’ baseball team looks to persevere and regain a victorious momentum throughout the remainder of their season. The Bobcats were in California from Sunday, February 18-Saturday, February 24 and recorded six losses against Pomona-Pitzer, Occidental, Whittier, Cal Lutheran, Claremont-M-S, and Puget Sound. When reflecting on these losses, the team agrees that they need to bounce back by regaining their focus and playing with more energy and confidence.
“We got off to a tough start in California and I think we just were not prepared all the way around,” says Zachary Avila ‘20. “There were undoubtedly some good teams but we just lost some of those games due to lack of preparation.”
“We did not do nearly as we had planned, but we’ve now had almost a month to work on the weaknesses we identified and feel ready to compete come NESCAC time,” adds senior captain Jacob Shapiro ‘18.
This is the Bobcats’ second season with head coach Jon Martin and the team understands that his expectation for them is to work on “executing” every pitch and situation, whether it be in games or practice. After a month of intensive practice and teambuilding, the Bobcats have already begun to turn their 2018 record around. On Saturday, March 10, less than a month from their California season opener, the Bobcats traveled to Northboro, Mass. and swept Worcester State at the conclusion of an exciting double-header.
“Last weekend, against Worcester State was all around great baseball in both games,” says Patrick Beaton ‘20. “Our pitchers did really well. Offensively, we had timely hits when we needed, with men in scoring positions to start innings. We also capitalized on all their defensive mistakes.”
Game One ended with the Bobcats finishing with a tight victory of 3-2. The competition lasted for twelve grueling, hard-fought innings. During the final inning, Avila hit an RBI single to send Pat Beaton ‘20 home for the winning run. Beaton had hit a triple before Avila was at bat. On the mound, the Bobcats only allowed two runs and six hits. Senior captain Connor Russell ‘18 lasted five innings and only gave up three runs before Shapiro took over during the sixth to earn the win. Russell struck out three batters, while Shapiro allowed no runs and struck out five batters.
Later that same day, the Bobcats defeated Worcester State 4-3 after another close game. The Bobcats won the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when Dan Trulli ‘19 hit a walkoff single. Relief pitcher Justin Foley ‘19 earned the win, allowing no runs and recording three strikeouts.
“Ever since California, we have proclaimed ourselves to be in the land of execution,” says Avila. “We know we don’t have a big team, so we have been preparing a lot for the small ball aspect of the game, such as bunting and hit and runs.”
“I think one thing that sparked us after California and made us play with more energy, as crazy as it sounds, is a picture of one of our teammates smiling at the camera during batting practice and giving a thumbs up,” Kyle Carter ‘20 remembers. “Coach Martin got hold of the picture and now the awkward-smile-thumbs-up has become our thing, and it gives us so much energy for some reason.”
The Bobcats will continue to build upon their team chemistry and use mementos such as the “awkward-smile-thumbs-up” photo to earn more NESCAC wins. The overarching goal for the team is to get to the NESCAC tournament, and that requires a cohesive team unit.
“We have a young lineup this year, but with great senior leadership and a great pitching staff, we know we have what it takes to not only get to the NESCAC Tournament, but win it,” says Avila. “Since California, our entire outlook has changed, and there is a new sense of energy and focus in the locker room.”
The Bobcats’ games against MIT that were supposed to be scheduled for Sunday, March 18 were postponed but they will look to keep their winning streak Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25 with back-to-back doubleheaders against Salem State and Endicott.