Wayne State splits the GVSU series to top off Florida trip

Jon Lyrek, Staff Writer

The Wayne State College baseball program traveled to central Florida for a six-game tournament last week called the Russ Matt Invitational and finished their spring break trip with a 2-3 record, putting them at 6-7 this season.  

 The Wildcats began the spring break trip by taking on the Notre Dame College (Ohio) Falcons, where WSC left day one of the trip with a 6-4 loss to NDC.  

As shown on the Wildcats athletic website, junior pitcher Ryan Obrecht got the starting nod for the Cats. The Omaha native pitched four and one-third innings while allowing seven hits and six runs, also walking one batter and four strikeouts, leaving the game with a 10.38 earned run average.  

 Junior pitcher Grant Carl finished the game for the Wildcats with two innings pitched, two strikeouts, and three walked batters, ending with a 0.0 ERA, putting him at a 3.37 ERA on the season.  

 Junior outfielder Colin Lynam led the club with three hits and two runs in five at-bats, and senior outfielder Alex Logelin followed with one hit and one run in four at-bats.  

 Day two of the trip for WSC consisted of a doubleheader against the Northwood University Timberwolves and NSIC rival, the Northern State Wolves.  

 Game one included Northwood coming away with a 7-2 victory over WSC, with redshirt sophomore Brody Sintek on the mound for the Wildcats.  

The Fremont native pitched four innings while allowing eight hits and six runs, coming away with a 13.50 ERA, putting him at a 9.88 ERA overall.  

Freshman Josh Kilzer finished the game for WSC with two innings pitched, no hits or runs allowed and pulling away with zero batters walked and two strikeouts, putting the Omaha native at a 0.0 ERA for the game 4.91 ERA overall this season. Seniors Noah Roberts and Alex Logelin led the Cats with one hit in three at-bats. Logelin tied junior outfielder Colin Lynam with one RBI (Runs Batted In).  

“As a team, we worked a lot on glove work and fielding during the offseason,” Roberts said. “I worked on being more consistent with my fielding and increasing my arm strength. Also, I want to be a little more aggressive at the plate and drive the ball a little more than I did last year, but that’s still in progress, so I hope that’s one thing I can improve on throughout the season.”  

Game two of the doubleheader included the Wildcats collecting a 9-7 victory over conference-rival Northern State, their first win of the road trip.  

Sophomore Pitcher Keean Allen took the starting bump for WSC, coming away with four and two-thirds innings pitched, allowing four hits one run and walked away with one walked batter and four strikeouts, putting him at a 1.93 ERA for the game and 5.84 ERA overall.  

 Redshirt junior Josh Renken, despite only pitching one inning, was awarded the win for the Cats. The Omaha native walked away with allowing one hit, two runs, zero strikeouts, and walked two batters.  

 Freshman Jacob Kneifl topped off the victory for the Wildcats with his first career save. The Wayne High grad pitched three and one-third innings and allowed five hits and four runs while walking two batters and striking out five, leaving him with a 10.80 ERA on the night and 15.26 ERA this season.  

 “I thought we got better as time went on,” Head Coach Alex Koch said. “We were looking forward to our pitchers getting better, which happened throughout the trip. Our pitchers are starting to challenge hitters more, and we hoped for them to make the next big step, and that’s what they did. Also, we’ve done a really good job so far playing defensive and, for the most part, swinging the bat fairly well.”  

 The time has now come. The final game day for WSC’s spring break trip was a split doubleheader series versus the Grand Valley State University Lakers.  

 “We always have freshmen step up, and this year, Chase (Douglas) and Jackson (Shelburne) are two guys that after their fall season, we expected to perform like they are so far,” Koch said. “Chase is really starting to get comfortable in the leadoff spot for us, so he needs to dive into that role, own it, and continue to perform as well as he has. When it comes down to Jackson, he just continues to build and get stronger every time he’s on the mound, so he’s worked his way into a starting weekend role, and his expectations are high.”  

 Game one of the day was a close and hard-fought matchup led by a duo of WSC freshmen, ending in GVSU pulling off a 2-0 victory over the Wildcats.  

 Freshman pitcher Sherburne stepped up big-time for the Cats, pitching five innings, and allowed four hits and one run, along with one walked batter and five strikeouts, walking away with a 1.80 ERA for the game, which puts him at a 2.76 ERA on the season.  

The only other pitcher WSC had on the mound for game one was junior Andrew Staebell. The Omaha native pitched for the remaining two innings, allowing one hit and one run, along with three walks and one strikeout, pulling away with a 0.0 ERA for the game and a 5.06 ERA overall.  

 Freshman second baseman Douglas tied with veteran Roberts with one hit each in three at-bats.  

 Redshirt freshman Nick Barnett tied with Logelin with a game-high one walk in the game.  

 “Getting stronger mentally during the offseason was a big thing for me since we had a lot of guys graduating last year,” Barnett said. “For me, patience at the plate and waiting for the pitch so I can do more damage at the plate was a focal point in preparing for the season.”  

 WSC topped off their spring break trip in Florida by flipping the script with a 5-2 victory over Grand Valley State.  

The Cats held a 3-0 lead thanks to two RBI singles by Roberts and Barnett, along with an RBI double by senior catcher Conner Fiene in the first inning and until an error scored a GVSU base runner in the bottom of the third inning.  

After both teams’ scoreless fourth and fifth innings, WSC added their lead to 4-1 with an RBI double by Logelin, scoring Douglas. GSVU shot back with a run of their own that same inning with an RBI sacrifice flyout.  

In the seventh and final inning of the game, the Wildcats scored the last run with an RBI single by Fiene, scoring redshirt junior Garrett Svoboda.  

The Wildcats will begin their home opening weekend with a doubleheader this Saturday, March 19, against the Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs, with the first game starting at 1:30 p.m. and game two starting immediately after at 3:30.