Stellar Pitching, Big Hits Lead Yeomen Past Wilmington


Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

First-year outfielder Alexis Castillo dives toward third base. The Yeomen won both of their games against the Wilmington College Quakers Sunday, bringing them to 7–11 for the season.

The Yeomen baseball team had big expectations going into the season. After a spring in which they finished 23–20 and broke program records for total wins and total conference wins, the team earned a third-place preseason ranking in the North Coast Athletic Conference this year, which was voted on by all of the coaches in the NCAC. The Yeomen began this season slowly, but after sweeping Wilmington College last weekend, the team looks to carry some momentum into their first NCAC matchup against Ohio Wesleyan University tomorrow.

The team, which is currently 7–11, showed glimpses of its potential by significantly defeating Wilmington in two games Sunday. The first game ended in a 10–1 victory for the Yeomen, and they showed no mercy in the second game as they produced 12 runs and only gave up three.

Pitching played a big role in the series sweep. In game one, junior lefty Zach Steer threw six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. The junior — who has a 3–0 record and 2.57 ERA through 21 innings — earned NCAC Pitcher of the Week for his efforts.

Junior pitchers Musa Matiwane, Dave Gaetano, and Stephen Kellner each threw a scoreless inning in the first game as well.

Junior starting pitcher Noah Gear earned his third win of the season in the second half of the doubleheader, giving up just three hits, two runs, and two walks in four innings of work. Senior Sean Kiley contributed two innings of work, while juniors Alex Amorello and Jack Reiss and sophomore Bradley Jamison each threw one.

A few changes have been made in the Yeomen’s pitching lineup, and so far they have paid off. The team will likely depend on Steer and Gear to be their go-to starters and keep opposing offenses off the bases.

“For our team this year, I think pitching is where it starts,” Gear said. “If we’re throwing the ball well, we’re going to give our guys a chance to win each and every time we go out there. We have some things to work on, but overall I think we’re in a good spot. This first doubleheader against Ohio Wesleyan will be a test to see where we are compared to the rest of the conference.”

Just a year ago, Gear posted a team-best 6–2 record with a 3.40 ERA through 42.1 innings of work. He is looking to improve on those numbers this spring and is well on his way, with a 3.63 ERA through 17.1 innings of work against strong competition.

“When I pitch, I’m trying to get hitters to ground out or fly out, so it’s really a testament to the guys behind me,” Gear said about his early success on the mound. “Our pitching staff can be at the top of the conference if we just focus on throwing strikes and forcing hitters to swing the bat.”

The team’s offense also came alive Sunday. After struggling to get their bats going against tough competitors like nationally-ranked Baldwin Wallace University and Washington & Jefferson University, the Yeomen sluggers finally started to get hot in the box against the Quakers. The team collected eight doubles, 22 runs, and sent two balls over the outfield fence.

Senior sidearm reliever and utility player Milo Sklar has been red-hot for the Yeomen. In game one, he smoked a two-out, three-run double. In game two, he went 3-for-4 at the plate with three hits, three runs, and four RBIs. The most impressive part of Sklar’s statistics is that his role was limited to pitching during his first two years at Oberlin. He started seeing at-bats as a designated hitter last spring and kept his spot by hitting .323. This year, after 52 at-bats, Sklar leads the team with a .404 batting average and 21 hits, eight of which went for extra bases.

Sklar said that whatever Head Coach Adrian Abrahamowicz needs him to do, he is happy to do it, whether it’s knocking in the first two batters on the lineup card or coming in for relief.

“In terms of pitching, my role hasn’t changed too much since my freshman year,” Sklar said. “If anything, it has gotten easier as our pitching staff has grown and added depth. Getting back to swinging has been really fun for me these last two years. I’m just happy that I’ve been able to contribute and help the team.”

Sklar isn’t the only player whose role has been altered. Junior Jack McGowan went from being a member of the bullpen to chasing down fly balls in the outfield and busting out hits. McGowan, who did not hit his first two years in the program, boasts a .364 average with 12 hits and 9 runs through 33 at-bats.

Other players who have produced for the Yeomen lately include sophomore second baseman and outfielder Maxx McGee and senior first baseman Quin Butler. McGee, who saw a decent amount of playing time as a first-year, is hitting .429 through 28 at-bats. Butler maintains his reputation as a slugger first baseman with a .313 batting average and eight extra-base hits.

The team is looking to start conference play on a positive note as the Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops come to campus for a doubleheader at noon tomorrow.