The Webster University baseball team traveled to Conway, Ark., for a three-game series against home team Hendrix College on Feb. 25 and 26. The Gorloks fell in all three games to the Warriors to open the season 0-3.
Prior to its games against Webster, Hendrix had already played nine games this season and had a record of 4-5. In the opener, the Gorloks tied the game at 1 in the fourth when sophomore second baseman Taylor Stoulp led off with an infield single. Then, Stoulp stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on freshman Isaac Behme’s ground out.
In the bottom of the fourth, Hendrix scored two runs to take a 3-1 lead. Junior center fielder Cody Stevenson led off the sixth with a walk and then stole second. Stoulp also walked, and then senior Tom Henke flied out to center field to move Stevenson to third. Stoulp attempted to steal, which allowed Stevenson to score and cut the lead to 3-2. Stevenson tripled in the seventh and scored on a passed ball to tie the game at 3. The Gorloks went cold in extra innings, as they were 0 for 9 in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings. Hendrix led off the 10th with a triple. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly to center to score the game-winner for the Warriors.
Senior David Mueller threw a solid seven-inning game. He allowed seven hits, struck out five and allowed two earned runs.
“My arm felt good,” Mueller said. “It was a little chilly out there and it took me a couple innings to settle in. But after that, my arm felt fine.”
In the nightcap, Webster started off strong by taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Webster scored three more times in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead into the fifth, but it all went downhill for the Gorloks from there.
Hendrix scored a run in the bottom of the fifth and went on a hitting spree in the bottom of the sixth, scoring eight runs on five hits. Hendrix went on to win the second game 9-5. Webster junior starter Steven Dooley pitched 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and four earned runs.
All three Webster outfielders — junior Alex Kazmierski, junior Mike Rainbolt and Stevenson — had two hits apiece. Rainbolt suffered a dislocated shoulder in the sixth inning, and his recovery timetable is uncertain at this point.
Stevenson said he felt good about his first games of the season.
“I did a lot better than what I expected — pretty good two games with our first games being a doubleheader,” he said.
On Feb. 26, the Gorloks couldn’t avoid a sweep by the Warriors. The Gorloks’ bats were silent in the first five innings, as they produced only two hits. In the sixth, Webster finally got on the board with three runs, as junior designated hitter Colin Bates hit a two-run homer to put the Gorloks up 3-2.
The Warriors took over the lead in the bottom of the sixth with two runs and never looked back from there. Hendrix scored seven runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to win the game 12-3 and sweep the three-game series.
Webster coach Bill Kurich had mixed feelings about his team’s early-season performance.
“We did some things very well; we did some things pretty poorly,” Kurich said. “I thought we had three very good starting pitching performances. We did not get the performances from the bullpen that we needed. But for being outside for the first time, even though we went 0-3, we played a very good team and a well prepared team.”
The Gorloks will try to bounce back this weekend, as they play four home games at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill. Webster plays Grinnell College on March 3 at noon and against Millikin University at 6 p.m. On March 4, Webster plays Grinnell at 10 a.m. and Millikin at 4 p.m.