Baseball ‘Cats open with four close losses

Mason Schweizer, Staff Writer

The Wayne State baseball team got off to a less-than-ideal start to their season over the weekend, dropping all four games in Wichita against Newman University.

Although the ‘Cats were swept, they were competitive all weekend, losing 4-3 and 6-4 Saturday, and 2-0 and 5-4 Sunday.

“I thought we were going to make a run in every game,” coach Alex Koch said. “We just didn’t get the big hit or make the big play when we needed to.”

Sloppy defense was a recurring theme for both teams all weekend. WSC committed 10 errors, while Newman had 8 of their own.

“Defense was key all weekend long,” Koch said. “We gave them too many free bases and extra outs all weekend. They took advantage of our mistakes and we didn’t take advantage of theirs.”

In game one Saturday, Kennan Brenn pitched well in the loss. He gave up one earned run on three hits and two walks, while striking out five, in 4 innings. However, the porous defense tagged three unearned runs to Breen’s line.

Alex Kreft collected two of the four WSC hits, including a second-inning RBI single. Bodie Cooper hit the team’s first homer of the year, a solo shot in the fourth.

In the Saturday nightcap, the ‘Cats bats came to life right away, plating two runners in the first inning, much to the pleasure of Koch, who was impressed in the way the offense played in both nightcaps.

But control issues from the pitching staff combined with 10 Newman hits plated more runs than the ‘Cats mustered up off 11 hits of their own. Newman took a 4-3 lead off a third inning throwing error and never looked back.

Joe Greco took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits in 2 innings.

WSC’s pitching staff put together their best performance of the weekend in Sunday’s first game, allowing just two unearned runs. That, however, was enough for Newman, who got a wonderful complete game, three-hit shutout from Kane McCarthy.

Spencer Johnson was the tough-luck pitcher of record for the ‘Cats, surrendering one of the two unearned runs on four hits in 4 innings.

In the final game of the weekend, WSC’s bats came to life late, scoring in each of the last two innings, including a solo shot from Nate Ackerman in the seventh, but it was too little too late for the ‘Cats, who took the 5-4 loss.

Ackerman was one of five ‘Cats to record multiple hits in the finale. Shortstop Tanner Simons was one of the others to record two hits in the last game, and had six hits over the weekend, most on the team.

“Simons was a standout player this weekend for us at the plate,” Koch said. “Now he just needs to take control of the defense and make sure he makes every routine play for us.”

Koch was also impressed with one of his sluggers, Bodie Cooper.

“Bodie’s numbers don’t really tell how good of a weekend he had,” Koch said. “He had a lot of well-hit balls that were caught.”

The ‘Cats will be on the road again this weekend, this time to Oklahoma Panhandle State in Goodwell, for doubleheaders that start at noon both Saturday and Sunday.

At least one personnel change is already planned in the starting rotation as Koch will continue to evaluate all of the new arms at his disposal.

“Mitch Ragan will be getting this game four start,” Koch said. “He is a talented freshman who threw well out of the bullpen this weekend, and will get a shot to start Sunday.”