By CHRIS MARKHAM
Following their less-than-stellar 2014 season, the University of Mary Washington baseball team made a resounding statement this past Saturday during the first two games of the season that this year would be much different from last.
The Eagles played host to a double-header against the Plattsburgh State University of New York Cardinals. The teams took to V. Earl Dickinson Stadium on a bitter, cold February day in what was both teams’ first games of the season.
In game one of the double-header, the Eagles wasted no time getting the 2015 season off to a good start, as they jumped out to 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. At the bottom of the third, UMW took complete control of the game and exploded for eight runs.
However, it was not just the swinging of the bats that proved to be the source of the Eagles’ dominant performance. The constant ‘0’ that showed next to the Cardinals’ name inning after inning is what truly kept them out of the game. The Eagles did not allow a score until the sixth inning, which ended up being Plattsburgh’s lone score of the game.
Of course, one must get on base first before they can score, and the Eagles did a great job of making sure that did not happen for Plattsburgh State. Junior starting pitcher for UMW Ryan Van Assche allowed no hits in the five innings that he pitched. UMW allowed just two hits the rest of the way, as the Eagles out-hit the Cardinals 16-2. Five additional scores in the sixth inning propelled UMW to its 16-1 victory in the opening game of the double-header.
Game 2 of the double-header brought much of the same for the Eagles. Pitching was once again the name of the game for the Eagles, and the defense did not allow a single run until the seventh and final inning of the game.
Meanwhile, the Eagles built an 11-0 lead with consistent scoring in five of the seven innings. UMW scored two, two and three runs in the first, second and third innings, respectively, before capping their scoring output with a four-run at the bottom of the fifth.
Sophomore starting pitcher Nick McIntyre allowed just one hit in his five innings on the mound. The Eagles again out-hit the Cardinals 12-5 in Game 2 while Plattsburgh State also committed four errors in the game to the Eagles’ one.
The 2-0 weekend puts the Eagles off on the right track but still has them far from where they want to be. An 11-2 start last year came crashing down as they proceeded to go 1-13 in their next 14 games against Capital Athletic Conference opponents. As the early games in the season often serve as “warm-up” games, they also serve as measuring sticks for teams as they look forward to what they have to work on down the stretch.
Plattsburgh State showed a respectable 14-22 last year, similar to UMW’s 15-19 final record. Assuming the two teams are still as evenly matched as they were last year, the two dominating wins are certainly what the Eagles want to see.
The Eagles were slated to face off against the Cardinals one more time on Sunday, but the game was cancelled due to inclement weather. Now, the Eagles will continue their long home stand to begin the season with games against Susquehanna University on Friday, Feb. 20 and Saturday, Feb 21.