Baseball swept by Benedictine, splits with Wiley

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The baseball team took a break from a rough stretch of conference to play Wiley College on Monday. The Wildcats split a doubleheader, losing the first game 3-0, but bounced back to win the second 8-3. In order to rest for upcoming conference games, most starters did not play.

“It’s really nice to have some time off,” junior Cort Brennan said. “I’ve been hurt myself over the weekend, and it was also good for the players who don’t necessarily get as much playing time.”

The Wildcats have not had an easy time in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, starting just 2-10 in conference play, while playing .500 ball outside of the conference. Baker’s most recent conference outing came in a four-game series against Benedictine College. BU struggled offensively, scoring fewer than two runs per game in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Ravens.

The series started off rough with junior pitcher Justin Bye giving up five earned runs and only retiring one batter in the first inning. Baker lost 11-3 and 5-2 in the first two games.

On Sunday the Wildcats trailed 2-1 entering the top of the seventh, but the Ravens scored two late runs for security to seal the 4-1 win. The Ravens completed the sweep with a 10-1 win in the final game of the series. Senior Taylor Whittum started on the mound, and gave up 4 earned runs in 4 innings of work. Whittum was also responsible for Baker’s only run with a monstrous home run in the bottom of the third. The loss marked the Wildcats’ seventh loss in the last nine games to Benedictine.

Freshman Tyler Brough says that the team isn’t overmatched, but the players must re-evaluate their mindsets to improve.

“I wouldn’t say that the competition is necessarily better, but the need to win is greater,” Brough said. “Everyone on the team knows how important conference games are, and throughout conference games, we must have a different mentality than if it was just a non-conference game.”

While the team has struggled to string together victories, there have been several outstanding individual performers so far in HAAC play. Brennan is batting .405 with 6 RBIs, and leadoff batter Travis Johnson is batting .385 with three doubles and six runs, both leading the team in conference games.

Brough has a 3.18 ERA in conference, with a .174 opponent batting average, and has made significant changes to his pitching style since realizing that he cannot simply overpower everybody in the beginning of the season.

“In high school, I could just blow my fastball by most guys, but in college, I have to actually hit my spots and execute pitches better,” he said.

Currently sitting at the bottom of the standings, the Wildcats next chance to break through in conference play will come on Saturday in a home series against Culver-Stockton College. This will be the first and only meeting between the two teams. C-SC currently sits in the middle of the pack with a 5-7 HAAC record, but has a worse overall record than Baker at 10-22.

Brennan knows that the team is better than its record, and he thinks consistency is the key to improvement.

“We have days where we hit really well and days where we pitch really well, but we can’t really pull the two together and have a complete team effort,” he said.