December 3, 2020

Baseball team goes 1-2 in first home games of season

Webster University baseball

SCOTT LAYNE / The Journal
In a game where Webster University’s offense struggled to score runs, freshman Michael Aaron strikes out with a runner on third base. The Gorloks scored only a pair of runs in their 3-2 loss to Wartburg College on March 20 at GCS Ballpark. The loss dropped the Gorloks’ record to 7-3.

After a 6-1 start in Florida to open the 2011 season, the Webster University baseball team returned home to GCS Ballpark and went 1-2. On March 20, the Gorloks fell to the Wartburg College Knights 3-2; the day before, Webster beat Concordia University but was dominated by Franklin College.
The Gorloks failed to provide run support for freshman starting pitcher Zach Schneider in the game against the Knights. In his seven innings pitched, Schneider struck out seven, walked one and allowed seven hits and two runs.
“I can’t really control anything,” Schneider said. “I have to let the offense do what they do and I’ll do what I do. I just need to stay focused.”
Bradley Watson, the starting pitcher for Wartburg, held the Gorloks to one run on three hits in his eight innings on the mound. Webster showed some life in the fourth when junior catcher Matt Moore hit a double to deep centerfield, which tied the game at 1-1.
In the eighth, Wartburg’s Patrick Grau homered off relief pitcher Steven Dooley to put the score at 2-1. The Gorloks attempted to rally, but the bats fell silent.
Schneider, now 1-2, has struck out 22 batters in his 20-plus innings pitched. Out of the three games over the weekend, the Gorloks totaled only 14 hits. Coach Bill Kurich spoke about his team’s lack of offense.
“We’ve got to get better at-bats,” Kurich said. “We have good at-bats in the middle (of the order), but not good at-bats in the top and bottom of the order this week. We will try not to dwell on this game.”
On March 19, the Gorloks played games against Concordia and Franklin. Webster junior Tom Henke hit a walk-off home run to clinch the 3-1 win over Concordia in dramatic fashion. The exhilaration created by the win, however, did not translate to the second game of the day. The Gorloks were nearly shut out by Franklin, 11–1.
In the game against Concordia, a pitchers’ duel erupted between Concordia’s Micah Buss and Webster junior David Mueller. In his eight innings on the mound, Mueller allowed only three hits and one run.
The game remained scoreless until the fourth, when Concordia first baseman Ryan Pacyga lined a shot into leftfield that drove in a run. In the eighth, luck seemed to be on the Gorloks’ side. Moore led off the inning with a single and moved to second base on an erratic pickoff throw. A sacrifice bunt by freshman Michael Aaron moved Moore to third, and a wild pitch gave him the opportunity he needed to tie game, 1-1.
In the top of the ninth, Dooley retired the Cougars 1-2-3. In the bottom of the inning, senior Nathan Shelton singled between third and short. One out later, with his teammates cheering him on, Henke slugged the ball over the right field fence for a home run. Henke was excited about his home run and the team’s win.
“I had been waiting for that pitch on the outer half all game long and when I saw that it was a fastball, I just tried to put a good swing on it and it ended up going out,” Henke said. “I’m a little upset that we couldn’t get the job done for Dave (Mueller), because he pitched a hell of a game and he deserved the win. But it was a good win for us and a good way to open up the season at home.”
Webster did not fare as well in the Franklin game. The Grizzlies pummeled the Gorloks with back-to-back four-run outbursts in the third and fourth innings to earn their sixth straight win. Webster switched pitchers four times during the course of the game and failed to capitalize with runners on base. By the time the Gorloks scored their only run in the eighth on an RBI by senior Anthony Genna, Franklin already had a 9-0 lead.
When Franklin tallied two more runs to make the score 11-1, the mercy rule was invoked to end the game. Kurich said the team’s youth was a factor in the March 19 games’ contrasting outcomes.
“Obviously, we pitched much better in the first game than the second,” Kurich said. “This is a very young team and it’s still early in the season.”
The Gorloks are now 7-3. They will face Concordia again in Bloomington, Illinois, on March 26. Webster will also take on Illinois Wesleyan University that day. As of March 22, Wesleyan is ranked 17th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division III poll.

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