On April 29, the Webster University baseball team won its sixth consecutive SLIAC title by…
Baseball team sweeps Greenville to improve to 10-0 in SLIAC play
Webster University senior Alex Kazmierski was 0 for 7 with 2 strikeouts in his first seven at-bats of a doubleheader against Greenville College (Ill.) on Tuesday, April 9 at GCS Ballpark.
When Kazmierski stepped into the batter’s box for his eighth at-bat of the evening, the bases were loaded and Webster and Greenville were knotted at 4 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Greenville pitchers had thrown Kazmierski off-speed pitches all night to great effect. With the count at 0-1 on Kazmierski in the ninth, Greenville freshman right-hander Scott Voyles tried to sneak a slider past Kazmierski. This time, Kazmierski came through with a groundball single through the right side of the infield to give the Gorloks a 5-4 walk-off win.
“It’s obviously a great feeling,” Kazmierski said. “Baseball is such a weird sport. I mean, to go up there without getting a hit and then to come up with that is obviously great. But I never would have had the opportunity if it wasn’t for the (other) guys that inning.”
Webster trailed the Greenville Panthers 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Junior Ryan Hall led off the inning with a walk and junior Brett Buchanan followed with a single. Sophomore Charlie Gandolfi pinch hit for senior Mitchell Bonds and laid down a bunt single, which Webster coach Bill Kurich called “the key to the inning.”
Senior Cody Stevenson was hit by a pitch to bring in a run. After junior Corey Lasky flied out, junior Taylor Stoulp singled in Buchanan to tie the game at 4-apiece. Senior Mike Rainbolt grounded out, which set the stage for Kazmierski’s heroics.
“Honestly, today was really weird,” Kazmierski said. “I went to the plate (in the ninth inning) and I wasn’t nervous at all. All my other at-bats — you know you get little butterflies or whatever. But that at-bat for some reason was a little bit different, and I wasn’t nervous at all. (I’m) just glad everything worked out the way it did.”
In Webster’s first game against Greenville, sophomore left-hander Isaac Behme threw a one-hitter as the Gorloks won 3-1 in seven innings. Behme recorded 6 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work. He improved his record to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.93.
With the pair of wins over the Panthers, Webster improved to 18-6 overall and 10-0 in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. Greenville fell to 8-13 overall and 5-7 in the SLIAC.
“We expect to win these games,” Kazmierski said. “I don’t expect to lose any games in the SLIAC. I mean, that’s just not how it should be. So we definitely have a lot of confidence no matter what, but (for) the SLIAC, we plan on winning every game that we play.”
Earlier in the week, the Gorloks carried their 12-game winning streak into a doubleheader against crosstown rival Washington University in St. Louis. In Game 1, Webster scored 19 runs on 25 hits en route to a 19-7 victory. Lasky went 5 for 7, junior Ian Foege was 4 for 5 and Kazmierski, Rainbolt and junior Kevin Kojs each had 3 hits.
WashU ended the Gorloks’ 13-game win streak with an 8-6 victory in Game 2 on Saturday, April 6 at WashU. Webster held an early 5-0 lead, but the WashU Bears put up 7 runs in the fourth inning and didn’t trail the rest of the game.
“The way we lost was disheartening,” Kurich said. “We were up 5-0 and gave up that lead. It was a tough day to pitch. The wind was blowing out. They have a very fast field and it was a great day to hit. We knew they were going to score some runs. … There was no panic whatsoever on the bench. I fully expected us to come right back and continue to score, and we didn’t. That was kind of the disheartening thing.
“Obviously, WashU is a very, very good team and always plays us tough. It’s not the loss; it’s the way that we lost. We just got our butt kicked up and down. To battle back to get close to 8-6, that’s one thing. But to be up 5-0 and to not be able to hang on, that was a tough one to swallow.”
Next up for Webster is a game against Blackburn College (Ill.) on Saturday, April 13 at noon in Carlinville, Ill. The Gorloks then play MacMurray College (Ill.) that day at 3 p.m. in Carlinville. Webster will once again take on Blackburn in a Sunday, April 14 doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. at GCS Ballpark.
Even though the Gorloks are undefeated in the SLIAC, Kurich still sees room for improvement.
“We certainly need to get better,” Kurich said. “I’m pleased, and the outcomes have been good. But we’ve been doing this long enough as a coaching staff to realize we’re not just competing against the teams we’re playing currently, we’re competing against the level of play we know we need to be at to win the College World Series. That’s the goal.”