The University of Mary Washington men’s baseball team took on Wesley College in a critical Capital Atlantic Conference doubleheader this past Sunday. The doubleheader brought the two closely seeded teams to the field with a sense of great anticipation. After a sloppy loss to the Wolverines in the first game, 8-4, the Eagles were able to claw back later in the day with a walk-off 3-2 victory.
Even after a 12-1 rout over Wesley earlier in the season, the Eagles set out on Sunday with no preconceived notions of guaranteed victory.
“Every conference game is a big game, no matter who we play,” sophomore pitcher John Miscioscia said. “Knowing we were playing a conference team that day made everyone want to win even more.”
Now at an integral point in the season, some players described the game’s implications with a make –or-break kind of intensity. With a record not revealing of their true potential the team came out on Sunday with a concrete goal for the game and season.
“We realize what we have to do to get where we’d like to go, now it’s just a matter of executing on the field,” junior catcher Nick Espinosa said.
The Eagles came out with a quick run in the first inning; while the Wolverines remained without a run until the third. During the third inning the Wolverines turned up their offensive game; scoring a few key runs. However the Eagles quickly fought back, picking up the game tempo defensively.
Sophomore outfielder Jackson Clement made a good catch to halt the advancing Wolverines three run streak. The Eagles were not able to convert offensively leading to the swift end of the third. After the third inning, the Wolverines seemed to gain momentum propelling them to score three more runs in the fourth.
Senior pitcher Wes Hayden was on the receiving end of an eight-run barrage by the Wolverines though four runs were unearned due to poor defense by the surrounding Eagles.
“We also made errors that they took advantage of,” senior pitcher Andrew Cox said. “I’m pretty sure we outhit them, but they scored when they needed to and we left too many ducks on the pond.”
“In the first game we made a few errors, and they made a few clutch hits,” Miscioscia said. “…We couldn’t buy a clutch hit.”
The Eagles were finally able to make a strike at the Wolverines pitching when they scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth. However, their efforts came too little too late after a scoreless seventh finalized an 8-4 Eagles’ loss.
With a revitalized sense of confidence and level of intensity unrivaled by the first game, the Eagles came back in game two to prove their first match up with the Wolverines earlier in the season was not a fluke.
“Coach Fitz lit a fire under us,” Cox said.
“There was a sense of urgency, good pitching, defense, and [we] made timely hits.”
Two critical runs by sophomore Eric Rhebein contributed to the three total runs against the wolverine defense. One of Rhebein’s crucial runs was assisted by a timely base hit to ignite the team’s momentum.
“But the biggest [turning point] had to be when [we] tied the game at two in the sixth inning of the second game,” Espinosa said. “When Will Wright got a base hit to center field and drove in Eric Rehbein.”
Then in the seventh inning with the game knotted up at two a piece, the Eagles’ offense surprised the Wolverines with a stolen second base and base hit that drove freshman, outfielder Jeff Zeisler home. Espinosa’s game winning hit was what allowed Zeisler’s drive home and the eventual 3-2 victory.
“It’s great being able to celebrate a ‘W’ with your team after a game like that,” Espinosa said. “Everybody on the field played hard, everyone on the bench was into the game, and everybody deserves credit for that win.”
After a struggle to gain momentum earlier in the day, the Eagles struck back in the second game to pull out a well-fought victory.
“Hopefully this come from behind win will jump start our season and we can get hot at the right time, going into the conference tournament,” Miscioscia said. “We are a better team than our record shows, we have two great senior pitchers and leaders, and an array of offensive weapons that when they get hot, it is nearly impossible to get them out, I know, they have lit me up in the inter-squads in the fall.”