Yeomen Poised for First Playoff Appearance in History

Taylor Swift

The Yeomen sealed a clutch victory against Wittenberg University last Sunday to capture their first ever appearance in the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament in program history. Splitting wins with the Tigers in their double-header Saturday, the Yeomen came back on fire and ready to play Sunday, defeating the Tigers 9–6.

The Yeomen took control from the start, putting up two runs in the first inning. The first came from sophomore Ryan Bliss, who drove in after NCAC player of the week Danny Baldocchi after he made it to first from a fielder’s choice. The second run soon followed as sophomore Mitchell Novak stole home. Baldocchi helped get two more runs on the board in the sixth inning, when he blasted a two-run homer over the left center-field wall.

“Our pitching staff really stepped up big this weekend,” said Baldocchi. “In our two wins our starters pitched deep into the game and kept our defense from spending too much time in the field. Keeping the innings quick allowed our hitters to stay focused and fired up.”

Starting pitcher junior Mike McDonald did just that, finishing with 5 strikeouts and 3 walks. With this momentum the Yeomen were able to tally 4 more runs onto the board in the eighth inning.

The Yeomen led comfortably 8–0 until the Tigers came out with a fight in the eighth inning, getting five runs to cut the lead to three. Despite this falter, the Yeomen secured their Tournament spot with another run by Novak in the ninth, coming from a hit from Baldocchi, and allowing only one more run from the Tigers.

This season not only marks the team’s first tournament appearance, but also a school record of 21–19. Sophomore Andrew Hutson, who has the highest batting average in the NCAC with a .423, attributes the team’s success to “the fact [that the team] is the same as last year, plus [getting] a lot of good freshmen. They provide a huge boost for us.”

This boost was clearly evident in the game Sunday, as Hutson scored the eighth run of the game off of a single to center from first-year Blaise Dolcemaschio. First-year Jesse Kohler also helped to finish off the Tigers, coming in as relief pitcher for McDonald in the eighth inning.

The Yeomen drew The College of Wooster for their first playoff game Thursday. Earlier in the season, the Scots proved to be a tough match as the Yeomen fell 1–3, but the team is confident in their ability to avenge their earlier loss and advance in the playoffs as long as the team stays focused.

“We can actually win this championship,” said Baldocchi. “A lot can happen over the course of a nine inning game and it’s tough for players to keep focus on every pitch, but in the playoffs that needs to happen. The moment we relax will be the moment we get sent home without a championship.”