By Neil Riley
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball” National Baseball Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby once said. “I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
So far this season, the baseball team has been spending much of their time staring.
After two postponed games before spring break, the team searched for sunnier skies in Port Charlotte, Fla. Finally, the team was able to step out onto the diamond for the first time in 2015 to play nine games in nine days. The team returned to Granville with a 5-4 record and, according to catcher Brandon Morgan ‘16, a clearer sense of team identity.
“Florida was a great opportunity for us as a team to get closer as a group, we spent a lot of time together on the baseball field, eating meals together and got to spend some time in the sun” Morgan said.
“The chemistry being built becomes important as we make our way through the season,” he continued. “It was also a chance for us to evaluate our progress so far. It is important for us to keep growing and taking one game at a time.”
As reflected in their record, the team’s progress has been mixed. At the plate, the squad has been confident and successful.
Georgie Montes ‘15 has been the standout coming off of a 2014 campaign in which he earned second-team All-NCAC honors. He leads the squad in batting average (.479), doubles (6) and runs scored (22).
Montes credits his preparation and support for his success so far this year. “The success at the plate I’d credit to the team and the coaches,” Montes said. “The coaches do a good job of teaching us a hitting approach that is successful. The support from the team is huge, it just makes hitting a lot easier.”
On the mound, the squad has been less consistent. The pitching staff’s total earned run average sits at an unremarkable 5.40.
Right hander Johnny Funkhouser ‘17, whose three game winning streak during conference play boosted the team’s spirits late in the season, has already given up two of the staff’s seven home runs.
DU has instead relied on young talent. Perley Provost ‘18 has maintained a 3.97 earned run average in five relief appearances, while Zack Huarte ‘18 has hurled a 2.65 in three starts.
Connor Hanrahan ‘17 has yet to give up a run in a team leading six appearances.
Denison’s inconsistency has hurt them especially since their return to Granville on March 24. Though the squad managed to edge out Muskingum, the staff gave up 10 runs on 11 hits.
DU has dropped three straight games since their victory over the Muskies. On March 25, the team was outmatched 19-1 against Marietta. On March 29, DU hosted a doubleheader against Case Western Reserve.
Despite four hits on the day from both Evan Flax ‘17 and Montes, the Big Red fell 9-7 and 8-5 to bring their record to 6-7.
Morgan was disappointed in his team’s issues with consistency. “So far in the season we have been unable to play a complete game, we haven’t pitched, hit and fielded collectively,” the catcher said. “At times we would hit well but our pitching wasn’t strong that particular game or we pitched well but couldn’t get the offense going. Once we are able to get all three aspects of the game down, we are going to a be great team.”
DU will return to action on April 3 against DePauw.
Photos Courtesy of Neil Riley