Baseball team prepares for Heart tournament


Story by Chad Mullen, Writer

The baseball team is headed to postseason play for the second time in three seasons.

In their final regular-season games of the season, the Wildcats lost the first three games of a four-game weekend series against Avila, but finished senior day at Sauder Field on Sunday with a 3-2 victory to give Baker a 16-16 record in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

“Losing three out of four games this weekend was tough, but it didn’t hurt us when we look at the bigger picture,” junior Caleb Lee said. “We aren’t hanging our heads over it because it meant a lot to the whole team to get a W on the seniors’ last home game, and to accomplish that was a really good feeling.”

Game one of Saturday’s doubleheader saw the Wildcats take a 1-0 lead in the first inning after senior Gabe Greenbaum scored on a wild throw by Avila. After that run, the Wildcats were held scoreless for the next 20 innings.

The Eagles took the lead in the sixth inning of game one off a two-run home run by Tyler Raymond, and won the game 2-1 when Baker was unable to answer with a run of its own.

Game two saw Avila slowly build a lead, scoring one run each in the second, fourth and sixth innings to take a 3-0 win. The Wildcats totaled six hits in the game but were unable to capitalize with runs on the board. Lee thinks the team needs a complete effort from all three phases to put together a run in the conference tournament.

“We know we have good pitching, good fielding and good hitting,” Lee said. “It’s just not every game that we have all three working at the same time, but when we do, we’re a really dangerous team.”

Game one of Sunday’s senior day saw the defense flounder, as seven Wildcat errors allowed for six Eagle runs in a 7-0 loss. Baker also had its worst offensive game of the series, getting just two hits off of Avila pitcher Randy Keen.

The regular season finale gave the Wildcats a chance to snap a five-game losing streak. The game started on a positive note, as senior Cort Brennan drove in the game’s first run to give Baker a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Eagles responded with two runs of their own in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead.

That lead lasted until the bottom of fifth inning, when senior Charlie Coleman sent a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home senior Eric Rausch. Then a balk by pitcher Cage Cascone brought sophomore Jamaal Rashad home from third to give Baker a 3-2 lead.

BU pitchers Bennett White and Matt Gruber did not allow a run to hold onto the lead, and freshman Evan Coder got the win for the Wildcats.

Lee thinks the win sets them up for a run in tournament play.

“We love the position that we’ve put ourselves in, and we feel the bracket is really set up in our favor,” he said.

Simply making the tournament is not enough for the Wildcats, according to Lee.

“It’s a big deal for us to make it to the tournament this year but that hasn’t been and isn’t our goal,” he said. “Our goal is to go and win this thing.”

The Wildcats will take on MidAmerica Nazarene at 1 p.m. on Thursday in Joplin, Missouri, in the opening round of the double-elimination conference tournament.