December 4, 2020

Webster splits games in Florida despite great pitching

Webster University baseball players warm up during a March 20 practice at Paul C. Wehner Senior Memorial Park. PHOTO BY MAX BOUVATTE.

The Webster University baseball team traveled to Florida from March 10-16 to compete in the Central Florida Invitational. Webster finished 3-3, but missed several opportunities to win all six games. The Gorloks’ record now stands at 7-6.

Webster defeated Ripon College (6-4 overall record) 5-2, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (3-7) by a 10-6 score and Transylvania University (5-7) by a 4-2 margin.

Webster scored a combined two runs in its three losses. The Gorloks lost 1-0 to Wheaton College (7-1), 4-1 to St. Norbert College (6-3) and 2-1 to Benedictine University (4-3). Excellent pitching kept Webster in each game.

“(The pitching) didn’t just give us a chance to win, they pitched well enough to win and win decisively,” coach Bill Kurich said. “We just did not come through with the bats we had earlier in the week. It is what it is. It’s baseball — sometimes you just don’t hit. It gets contagious.”

Senior David Mueller pitched well, picking up a win and a loss while also recording a save in his appearances in Florida. Mueller earned his second win of the season in the 5-2 win over Ripon. He gave up two runs on seven hits in eight innings, striking out eight.

In the 2-1 loss to Benedictine, Mueller allowed two runs — one unearned — on six hits in seven innings pitched, striking out seven.

“I think the last couple years going down there and having experience, knowing what kind of teams we were going to face and we were going to play a lot of really good competition, kind of prepared me to have a good week down there,” Mueller said.

Freshman Isaac Behme pitched a scoreless seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out four in the loss to Wheaton.

“When we recruited (Behme), we expected him to be our four-or five-hole hitter and eventually become our three-hole hitter and our run producer in his sophomore, junior and senior year,” Kurich said. “He’s given up one run in 19 innings now. Because of injuries, we’ve had to use him on the mound. He’s been borderline great on the mound for us. Finding a guy like that who we didn’t really expect is nice, especially at that caliber.”

Great pitching could have enabled the Gorloks to leave Florida 6-0, but their offensive struggles forced them to settle for a split.

“I’d rather be 7-6 pitching the way we are than being 7-6 and outscoring people,” Kurich said. “I’d be a lot more concerned, because you know you’re not always going to score.”

Webster played six games in seven days in Florida with a rest day splitting up the first three and last three games.

“There’s a lot of games in a short period of time,” Kurich said. “You use a lot of different lineups, a lot of different pitchers that may not get the opportunity later in the year. That’s what we kind of expected to happen down there.”

Mueller said the games in Florida will help the Gorloks as they try to defend their St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title. The SLIAC season begins on March 23 for Webster.

“I expected to have a couple more wins,” Mueller said. “Maybe go 5-1 or 6-0 — just have a winning record coming out of Florida. If we played better as a team, we definitely could have.

“It prepared us very well. We played a lot of really good competition down in Florida. There’s going to be a lot of good teams in the SLIAC this year. I think playing top competition will really benefit us playing in our conference.”

Webster next plays at Washington University on March 21. The SLIAC season begins with Webster traveling to Principia College on March 23, then hosting Principia on March 24. The Gorloks travel to Normal, Ill., on March 25 to play against Division-I Illinois State University.

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