Baseball Hits Its Stride in Arizona

Chris Landers, Sports Editor

The men’s baseball team’s highly anticipated 2011 campaign got into full swing over spring break, as the Yeomen headed to Arizona for the RussMatt Greater Phoenix Invitational.

After splitting an opening doubleheader with Middlebury College, Oberlin used strong pitching and timely hitting to sweep a double dip against Thomas College. Senior Grady Campion started for the Yeomen in game one, delivering five shutout innings.

Oberlin’s lineup did just enough to get him the win, scoring the game’s only two runs in the top of the third. Senior catcher Brandon Cantrill delivered an RBI single and a wild pitch soon followed to score fellow senior infielder Ben Puterbaugh. Senior pitcher Phil Brua followed Campion, pitching two scoreless frames to lock down his first save of the season. Sophomore outfielder Max Phinney led the Yeomen with a 2–3 effort from the plate.

The nightcap offered more drama, as the game was decided in the final at-bat. Junior starting pitcher Jason James gave the Yeomen three solid innings before running into trouble in the fourth. Nursing a 2–1 lead, Thomas rallied for three runs on four hits in the inning to pull ahead, knocking James from the game in the process.

The Oberlin bats would respond. In the fourth, sophomore infielder Matt Fish came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to right to score first-year second baseman Sean Cohen. Oberlin tied the game in the fifth, as Cantrill hit a sac fly to score sophomore outfielder Zach Kisley, setting the stage for some final inning dramatics.

The Yeomen led off the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back walks. A sac bunt by Cantrill moved those runners into scoring position for Phinney, who delivered a game-winning sac fly to center that scored Kisley for a 5–4 win. Kisley went 3–3 with three steals in the win.

“I think we were all really relaxed [over break] and we just had fun playing baseball the way we know how,” Kisley said. “It was really fun because our wins were a total team effort — everybody got to contribute in the wins, whether they were big roles or small roles.”

The following day, the Yeomen delivered another doubleheader sweep, this time over Gustavus Adolphus College. The Oberlin bats were alive in the opener, as they took the afternoon game 11–6. It was pitching that did the trick in game two, as the Yeomen won a 2–0 pitcher’s duel.

The winning streak continued in another game against Middlebury, as Oberlin exacted some revenge for a tough 2–1 opening day loss to the Panthers with a 4–3 win.

Williams College was next, but unfortunately the Yeomen couldn’t keep up their winning ways. Oberlin dropped both games of the doubleheader, 4–3 and 10–3. They ended the event on a high note, however, winning their final game in dramatic fashion against Gustavus Adolphus.

Down 8–5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yeomen rallied for three runs to force extra innings. Cohen knocked a single up the middle to score Brua. A GA error led to the second run, and sophomore outfielder Zach Jaspers came through with a big game-tying sac fly to score first-year pinch runner Ethan Blumenthal. Oberlin was quick to capitalize on its new life, as sophomore infielder Eric Knight smashed a walk-off double to center that scored Brua all the way from first.

The Yeomen had a quick turnaround from Phoenix as they began conference play this past weekend with doubleheaders against the Wabash Little Giants and the Wittenberg Tigers on Saturday and Sunday.

Against Wabash, Oberlin dropped two close contests. In game one, the Little Giants used a big fourth inning to pull away, touching up starter Eric Knight for four runs in the frame to break a 2–2 tie. Wabash starter Andrew Swart did the rest, holding the Yeomen scoreless for the remainder of the game to give his team the 6–2 win.

“We played two pretty good teams with a really tough turnaround,” Head Coach Adrian Abrahamowicz said. “We got back from Phoenix at 9 a.m. and got on the bus for Wabash at 4 p.m. We played pretty well; we’re starting to find ourselves.”

Game two was a heartbreaker, as Oberlin rallied to force extra innings only to fall in the eighth. The Yeomen stormed back from a 5–1 deficit, tying the game on a Phinney single in the sixth. However, Wabash knocked in a run in the bottom of the eighth to snag the 6–5 victory.

The Yeomen were able to earn their first conference win of the season against Wittenberg, winning game one of the doubleheader 5–4. Phil Brua had a four-out save to preserve the win.

In game two, however, the Tigers got to the Oberlin bullpen, scoring three runs in the sixth to pull away for a 6–3 win in the nightcap.

Despite the shaky start in conference play, the team insists it still can and will live up to the big expectations this season brought.

“This season should be and can still be a big one,” senior outfielder Ben Kauder said. “In baseball there is always going to be pressure; that’s what makes the games so fun. If every player concentrates on how they can better contribute to a win, we will have a successful year.”

The Yeomen are back in action on April 7, as they take on Capital University at 2 p.m. at Dill Field.