Men’s Baseball Closes Out CU Cardinals

Quinn Hull, Sports Editor

Zach Jaspers is not a huge guy, listed at around 5 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds on the baseball roster. But on Sunday, the junior outfielder stood tall like a Yeoman, driving home the team’s seventh and game-winning run against the Concordia University Cardinals in a 7–6 victory.

“Everybody was really excited about that,” Jaspers said of his hit. “It was a nice way to start the weekend off.”

Quite the understatement. The Yeomen manufactured the momentum from Jasper’s game-winner into a second win, 8–4, later that Sunday against the Cardinals at All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio. And though the Yeomen dropped a tightly contested 5–4 game on Wednesday to Bluffton University, it’s safe to say that the Yeomen proved to everyone else what head coach Adrian Abrahamowicz already knew: “We’re gonna have a pretty good team.”

The Yeomen went into their Sunday double-header against Concordia win-less, having fallen twice to Case Western Reserve University early that week to open the season. They were thus eager for victory, and it showed against the Cardinals, a non-NCAA team with scholarship money.

The opening game was tight and high-scoring early, including a third inning which saw the two teams combine to notch seven runs. However, when the Cardinals scored a run to tie the score at seven apiece at the top of the fifth inning, both teams’ bats went strangely quiet. Jaspers changed all that at the bottom of the eighth inning, when his line drive single up the middle of the field allowed sophomore Zach Kisley to advance home.

The clutch hit was sweet vindication for Jaspers, who wasn’t a part of the team’s starting lineup and was pinch-hitting in place of sophomore Ethan Blumenthal.

“I was just a little, little bit angry about the fact that I didn’t get to start the game,” Jaspers stated. “But as the game went on I started thinking, ‘Hey, they’re probably gonna need me to hit.’ ”

The decision to go with Jaspers instead of Blumenthal for the crucial at-bat rested with coach Abrahamowicz, who was by no means boastful about the outcome.

“It looks like a good move now, you know,” Abrahamowicz said.

Regardless, the move propelled the Yeomen to their first win of the season and granted them momentum going into the second part of their double-header with the Cardinals, an 8–4 win. Sophomore Mattie DeDoes got the start as pitcher, allowing four runs over five innings of work and notching three strikeouts. Sophomore shortstop Sean Cohen continued his streak of solid hitting, going 2-for-4 and batting in two runs. Sophomore catcher Steve DiNanno also registered three hits, though it was another type of hit, one not from the batters box, that got the most attention.

During the top of the sixth, with momentum swinging the Yeomen’s way, DiNanno put the ball in play and started running towards first base. The Oberlin sophomore, Concordia’s first basemen and the ball each ended up arriving at first simultaneously, causing a bit of contact between DiNanno and the Cardinal player, and a whole lot of confusion. Concordia’s coach, Kyle Rayl, approached the umpire, started up a little skirmish and then ended up getting kicked out of the game.

“It was one of those ‘out-safe’ calls by the umpire,” said Abrahamowicz, who has never been kicked out of a game, “at least, not yet.”

The coach’s expulsion proved fatal for the Cardinals, as the Yeomen went on to score four runs in the sixth inning to clinch the game.

While Sunday was a resounding success, Wednesday’s home opener against the Bluffton University Beavers took on a different tone, as the Yeomen lost 4–5. The team had an early 3–1 lead after three innings but allowed Bluffton to fight back through a series of base-running and batting miscues. Bluffton capped the comeback at the top of the ninth when a Beaver batter drew a bases-loaded walk, allowing the game-winning run to score.

Steve DiNanno led all batters with three hits, a count which composed nearly half of Oberlin’s total of eight, along with an RBI. But it wasn’t enough for the Yeomen, who called the defeat “heartbreaking.”

“We were in the game, and then we just kind of let it get away from us,” said Jaspers, who got the start but went 0-for-3 in the contest. “We didn’t really execute what we needed to do. … It didn’t really happen.”

The Yeomen get a chance at redemption heading into the next few weeks, which will feature a trip to Phoenix, AZ, over spring break. First, they take on D’Youville College of New York in a four-game series starting Saturday, March 17.