After a season-opening, 3-2 10-inning loss to Washington University (Mo.), the Webster University baseball team’s bats awoke in a double-header sweep of Rhodes College (Tenn.).
“Obviously, getting outside for the first time and really playing, you never know what you’re going to get out of the guys coming right out of the gym,” coach Bill Kurich said. “We kind of got what we expected. … (We) just executed with the bat. We had a couple of opportunities and came through.”
Webster faced the Rhodes Lynx in Memphis, Tenn., in a two-game series on Sunday, Feb. 24. In Game 1, the Gorloks used a four-run ninth inning to secure the victory over Rhodes 8-4.
The Lynx jumped on sophomore pitcher Isaac Behme with a two-run second inning to take an early 2-0 advantage. The Gorloks struck back with one of their own when junior shortstop Ryan Hall brought home senior third baseman Mitchell Bonds in the fourth inning.
However, Webster tied the game with an RBI groundout by junior designated hitter Joe Winckel, which scored junior second baseman Taylor Stoulp in the fifth inning.
Winckel went 4 for 5 in Game 1 with 4 singles and 4 RBIs — which included a two-run base knock to pad Webster’s lead to 5 runs in the ninth inning. Junior first baseman Brett Buchanan had a 2-for-5 day with a RBI fielder’s choice. Behme earned the season’s first victory for the Gorloks, going 6 innings and surrendering 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits, 6 walks and 2 strikeouts.
Game 2 saw Webster pull ahead early and never look back with a 7-3 win. Buchanan opened the scoring with a 2-run single to right field, which brought around Hall and senior center fielder Cody Stevenson.
Kurich said Buchanan and Winckel’s timely hits contributed to making a difference in the sweep.
“Joe Winckel and Brett Buchanan — a couple of guys who swung the bat really nice on Sunday — came up with some key hits for us to drive runs in, and that’s just what we didn’t do on Saturday (Feb. 23 against WashU).”
Six different Gorloks pitched in for the 6 hits in Webster’s box score. Senior pitcher Cody Hafeli went 6 innings in the win, giving up 2 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, 1 strikeout and 7 hits against a team that went 27-15 in 2012.
Before the season’s first wins, Webster dropped the first game of the 2013 campaign on Saturday, Feb. 23. The Gorloks managed two hits — both singles, one each from Bonds and junior right fielder Jared Turner — in 10 innings. Stevenson and Bonds recorded Webster’s RBIs with a sacrifice fly each.
Bonds’ RBI tied the game at 2 each in the fifth inning, but Webster’s offense didn’t muster another run the rest of the afternoon. Buchanan made the opening day start on the mound for Webster as the right-hander went 5 2/3 innings, scattering 7 hits and 2 runs with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts.
Senior pitcher Steven Dooley relieved Buchanan and pitched a fateful top of the 10th inning. He surrendered a one-out triple, walk and single in succession to give the Bears the go-ahead run. Dooley took the loss and finished with a line of 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, and 3 K. WashU pitcher Stephen Bonser threw all 10 innings to handcuff the Gorloks.
Kurich said the season-opening loss shouldn’t have a major impact on the Gorloks, especially with the sweep of Rhodes.
“We play (WashU) four times (in 2013),” Kurich said. “They threw their best kid at us, who we beat twice last year. He does a nice job in battles. I like our chances when it’s not the first time out of the gate and whatnot. Our guys did not get too worked up about WashU. It’s just another game for us.”
The next games for Webster are the home openers for the Gorloks at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill. On Sunday, March 3, Webster hosts North Central College (Ill.) at 11 a.m. On Monday, March 4, the Gorloks take on Buena Vista University (Iowa) at 10 a.m. and then play North Park University (Ill.) at 2 p.m.