The Lions stay hot in the Sunshine State

By Jessica Ganga
Sports Editor

The weather in Florida was hot, but the bats of the College’s baseball team were hotter last week during the team’s annual trip to the Sunshine State. From come-from-behind wins to earned double-digit runs, the team demonstrated what the true definition of “teamwork” really is, something that has so far been evident in the beginning of the season. The Lions took home seven wins out of eight games played, bringing its overall record to 9-1 on the season.

Volpe pitches two great games for the Lions while in Florida. (Photo courtesy of Sports Information Desk)
Volpe pitches two great games for the Lions while in Florida. (Photo courtesy of Sports Information Desk)

The Lions’s first game on Saturday, March 12, against Roger Williams University set the momentum for the rest of the trip. With the leadership of the team’s seniors, including pitcher Steven Volpe, the Lions defeated the Hawks, 12-2.

Volpe dominated the game, getting his first 15 outs in only 39 pitches. The veteran pitcher allowed only two opposing runners to reach home and struck out five during his complete game.

The Lions took the spotlight, with play after play throughout the game. Senior center fielder John Rizzi showed range by making six putouts during the game. Rizzi’s nonstop effort gave Volpe the confidence to attack all parts of the strike zone against the opposing hitters, allowing him to give them his toughest pitches.

“The players have all worked hard in all aspects of the game,” head coach Dean Glus said. “They have paid attention to details and that has built confidence in each one to go out and play to their ability.”

The team’s hitting was on fire throughout the game, with the offense recording 15 hits while runners were on base.

“The hitting by the entire team was outstanding,” Glus said. “After 10 games, I believe we are hitting at a .380, clip and that is outstanding. The starting pitching was very good, as we had over five complete games by our starters. “

The next day, Sunday, March 13, the team split two games in a doubleheader against Fitchburg State University. Even though the Lions outhit their opponents, 12-8, the team couldn’t come back after Fitchburg State exploded in the fifth inning with five runs. The Lions fell to them, 10-7.

In the afternoon, the Lions drew their claws, defeating Fitchburg State, 8-3. Freshman Michael Fischer made his first collegiate start and had an impressive debut, pitching all seven innings for a complete game. The freshmen have made their mark early in the season and have helped the team tremendously during the start.

“The veteran players have taken the freshmen under their wings to show them support, guidance and how to work the right way at their skills,” Glus said. “The freshman class has a lot of ability and they feel they are big part of the success.”

Fitchburg State jumped out early and scored in the first inning, but the Lions’s offense answered back with a run. Rizzi reached base after being hit by a pitch and eventually darted out to steal second. Senior catcher Garren Turner smacked the ball up the middle for a single and earned himself an RBI as Rizzi touched home. The team went on to score seven more runs, with Fischer allowing only two in the fifth and last inning of the game.

Similarly to how the Lions came close to overtaking Fitchburg State, the team was able to keep Eastern Connecticut State University at bay on Thursday, March 17. The College got on the board quickly with sophomore infielder Zach Shindler leading the charge. Shindler earned himself four hits and three RBIs in just five at-bats.

Pitching shines in Florida games. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Pitching shines in Florida games. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

The Lions took control over the game in the fourth, advancing the lead to 10-1. Turner blasted the ball into the field for a run-scoring triple. Shindler then stepped up to the base and slapped the ball to the middle, scoring Turner. Shindler eventually reached home on a single by sophomore outfielder Mike Follet.

In the eighth inning, Eastern Connecticut inched closer to a victory by scoring six runs in the eighth inning, making the score 10-9.

It was sophomore pitcher Matt Curry’s turn to shine on the mound as he kept the opponents’ offense back. The 6’4” right-hander went one-two-three, ending the game with a fly ball to center.

For Glus, the close win was a game that stuck out in his mind after the trip came to a close.

“We took a 10-3 lead and they came back to make it 10-9 and then we shut the door,” Glus said. “It’s not easy being up and then in a tight game and having the confidence to close it out.”

The Lions met the coach’s expectations during the week they were in Florida, defeating Babson College, 10-1, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 20-3 and Westfield State University, 4-0 and 6-2.

“In the first 10 games, they met all expectations and more so,” Glus said. “The coaching staff set expectations for each player to take the next step in their games and for the most part, they have done that.”

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