August 16, 2018

Red-hot Gorloks use conference wins to move up in NCAA rankings

Webster University’s baseball team made a three-spot improvement this week, moving from 25th to the 22nd spot in the latest American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) / Collegiate Baseball, and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III baseball poll on Tuesday.

The Gorloks have won 12 of their last 13 games, including a sizzling record within the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). On the season, Webster University sits at 11-2 in the conference, a key factor for their win-loss record.

Conference rival Spalding University moved to the 25th spot of the ABCA poll, right behind Webster. Spalding and Webster are both No. 1 in their SLIAC divisions. On the season, the Gorloks boast a 21-7 record.

The team’s week began with a “rivalry game” against the nearby Washington University. The game-time temperature was just above 30 degrees. Gorloks pitcher Matt Hulhearn had a  standout career night,  striking out a career high seven batters, battling through the chilly weather.

“You can’t use the weather as an excuse,” Mulhearn said coach Bill Kurich told him before the game.

Mulhearn, a Chicago native, said Washington University is one of Webster’s biggest rivals outside of conference play.

He did not disappoint in his start against them. He kept the Bears to three hits without a runner advancing past second in six and a third innings pitched, something Mulhearn largely credits to the defense behind him, which ended that game with no errors. The Gorloks came away with a 3-0 victory that night.

Head coach Bill Kurich said this non-conference game was important not only because of the rivalry, but because it could still help Webster get into the postseason. He did, however, bring out some of the issues he would like his team to rectify. The team left 11 runners on base during the “Big Bend Rivalry” game.

“We keep leaving runners on base,” baseball head coach Bill Kurich said. “I’d like to see us score more than three runs. Hopefully when the weather warms up, we’ll be back.”

Kurich said many games this season have been affected by low temperatures. One of those low temperature games was against Eureka College, which Webster ended up losing two to one. Eureka is 4-8 in conference play.

“In the moment, that particular game was tough to swallow,” Kurich said. “Partially because of how cold it was and how miserable it was to be outside.”

Kurich acknowledged that the team will lose some tough games over the course of 22 conference games. That one made for a long bus ride home, Kurich said.

Kurich said he likes Webster’s chances against any team. Since that loss to Eureka College on April 8, the Gorloks have won seven consecutive games, and have become an offensive juggernaut in the process. In that seven-game stretch, they have scored in double digits in five of those games. This includes a 19-8 shellacking over Blackburn College, and a 20-0 rout of Principia College. Such wins gave Kurich confidence for the future.

“We expect to finish out this season strong,” Kurich said. “We want to go into the conference tournament on a roll.”

Webster has nine conference games left this season. They will end regular season play with Spalding, who is just three spots behind Webster on the ABCA top 30 poll.

They will also have contests against universities such as Principia College, McMurray College, Greenville University and Iowa Wesleyan University, all games within the conference.

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