Baseball Sweeps Berea in Doubleheader
With 31 hits and 29 runs, the baseball team opened up the 2017 season in style by defeating the Berea College Mountaineers in a doubleheader 12–1 and 17–0. After a disappointing 2016 campaign, the Yeomen are looking to build off their current 2–0 start to recapture the magic of 2015, when they claimed the first conference championship in program history and made a deep run into the NCAA Regionals.
“The disappointment from last year has left our guys extra hungry for success this season,” senior co-captain Michael Masella said. “Our preparation for the upcoming season started on the first day of classes in September. It’s been a long offseason. We’re definitely all itching to get going.”
Led by senior right-fielder Brian Carney, who went five for six with a three-run home run and seven RBI, the Yeomen offense exploded against Berea. Junior shortstop Sam Harris succeeded at the plate and in the field, going five for eight with three doubles, four RBI and five runs scored. Sophomore Ian Dinsmore, who led the team in 2016 batting .389 in 36 starts, added four hits as well.
The Yeomen also dominated on the mound, led by sophomore Zachary Steer and junior Sean Kiley. A 2015 All-NCAC Tournament Team selection, Kiley started off the day with a win in game one, tossing five shutout innings with four strikeouts. In game two, Steer logged his first collegiate win on the mound by tossing five scoreless frames with seven strikeouts. Defensively, the Yeomen posted a clean sheet by not committing a single error in either game.
Head Coach Adrian Abrahamowicz said he credits the team’s early success to the improved pre-game preparation.
“The chemistry of the team is better than it’s been in past years,” he said. “We have better synergy at practice, and the guys hold each other accountable. Last year was different because we lost a lot of seniors.”
After finishing 14–26 overall and 6–13 in NCAC play last year, the Yeomen are looking to fill the void left by the loss of 12 seniors. But a veteran group of nine seniors has meshed well with nine talented first-years throughout the offseason.
“We have talented freshmen, and the older guys are going to carry the gauntlet for us,” Abrahamowicz said. “They’ve earned it.”
This year, the Yeomen will enter as underdogs. In the preseason NCAC poll, Oberlin was predicted to finish in eighth place behind division rivals Kenyon College and Allegheny College. They will also have to contend with The College of Wooster, which was projected to repeat as conference champions and is ranked No. 14 nationally. Despite their underwhelming projection, the Yeomen have their sights set high.
“It’s nice to see that everyone is motivated on their own this year,” senior captain Justin Cruz said. “We’re improving on not making as many errors in the field, and winning the ‘freebee war’ as we call it, which means taking walks and hit-by-pitches when we can. That way, we chip away at the other team.”
The Yeomen will continue their non-conference schedule today when they take on the Calvin College Knights in a doubleheader in Westfield, IN. After Sunday’s doubleheader at Earlham College, the Yeomen travel westward to Arizona for 10 games in five days starting March 18.
With conference play beginning April 1 at The College of Wooster, Oberlin is determined to replicate its 2015 success.
“This team has meant so much to me over the past four years,” Masella said. “I’d love nothing more than to end my career here with a conference championship.”