COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University baseball team had its spring break trip shortened after weather cancelled its final game in the Orlando, Fla. area. Despite weather dealing a blow to the end of their week-long stay, much was taken away from the seven games that the team played.
The Crusaders (3-4 overall) finished the week by splitting their final two games of their stay, first falling to Houghton College, 6-3, but ending on a high note with a 7-6 win over Lyndon State University.
In Capital's loss to Houghton, the bats were quiet outside of a three-run fifth inning. Run-scoring hits by Austin Underwood (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Bishop Hartley) and Logan Bastin (Mansfield, Ohio) helped the Crusaders cut the lead to one run, but Houghton's third two-run frame of the game put them over the top. Despite the loss, the Capital bullpen held up its end of the bargain by allowing just two runs (one earned) in six innings of work between Casey Hamrick and Joseph Borkey. The duo struck out a combined seven hitters, while Borkey did not allow a hit in his 3.1 innings of work.
The Crusaders finished their week-long stay in Auburndale, Fla. with an overall record of 3-4. Coming off of a year where the offense struggled to plate runs, Capital averaged six runs per game over the break, compared to 4.76 runs scored per contest over the course of last year. While the sample size is small, it's the first taste of what Capital Baseball fans will see with a year more experience on the lineup card.
Statistical standouts from last week include sophomores Logan Bastin and Jake Foley (Pataskala, Ohio/Licking Heights). Bastin led the team with 10 hits in 26 at bats, including four walks. His .385 batting average landed him second on the team, as did his eight runs batted in.
Foley, who enters the season as one of the Crusaders' starting outfielders, went 9-for-25 (.360) with three RBIs and a team-leading five walks. The speedster also stole three bases on as many attempts.
Senior C/OF Matthew Carnahan may not have posted the best seven-game batting average, but led the Crusaders in extra-base hits (4) including the team's only home run. He currently has a team-high 16 total bases, a .516 slugging percentage and five RBIs.
Fourteen different pitchers saw time on the hill and ended the week with a 3.47 team earned run average. The best single start for a Capital pitcher came from sophomore Shane Wellman (Moundsville, W.Va.). Wellman earned a no-decision against Alma College (Mich.) after surrendering just one unearned run and two hits while striking out nine. That game resulted in a 4-3 extra-inning loss.
The bullpen pitched a total of 25.2 innings and held a 3.16 ERA in that time while posting a 1-1 overall record. Five of the 10 pitchers that entered in a relief effort exited the week with an unscathed ERA while two more posted a 3.00 or lower ERA. Joseph Borkey totaled 4.1 innings of work, struck out four, walked just one and did not allow a hit. Dominic Field (Chula Vista, Calif.) had a three-inning relief appearance, allowing just one hit and striking out one while Connor Golden (Galena, Ohio), Austin Underwood and Benjamin Ginsberg (Flagstaff, Ariz.) combined for five innings of scoreless work, one hit, five strikeouts and four walks.
Even after exiting the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational with a 3-4 record, Capital head coach Ryan Grice feels that the future is bright.
"I think the biggest thing [that we pulled away from the trip] is we know some young guys can really play, and I know we're athletic," said Grice. "We have a lot of guys we can rotate through and a lot of guys that aren't overwhelmed at the college level."
While Mother Nature may alter the upcoming schedule, Grice and his staff will use the rest of the nonconference season to learn more on how they can use their diverse lineup to maximize production.
"I think versatility is going to be a big strength of ours, and being able to do different things throughout the game that I don't think we've been able to do in the past," said Grice. "Once we solidify our mistakes and get out of our own way at times, I think we have a chance to be a pretty good ball club."
The Crusaders' next scheduled games will be against Hanover College (Ind.) this Sunday (March 8). The schedule was recently altered to adjust for incoming weather. The Crusaders and Panthers will meet for a doubleheader at Grand Park (Westfield, Ind.), beginning at 1 p.m.