Photo by Kate Nuelle
The Tiger baseball team opened their home season with a three-game sweep of the Endicott College Gulls. The three wins, taking place Feb. 21–Feb. 23, leave the No. 2 Tigers with a perfect 7–0 record to start the year.
The Tigers were ranked third in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division III Top 25 Poll during the preseason after ending their 2019 season at Regionals in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. Prior to the series against Endicott, redshirt junior outfielder Mason Meredith anticipated a welcome challenge for the home team.
“They will be a good team, and we will need to play our best baseball in order to achieve our goal of winning all three games,” Meredith said.
The series opened on a bitterly cold Friday night, but that did not stop people from turning out for the Tigers’ home opener. Around 120 people huddled in the stands, the majority of which were cheering for the home team.
Trinity put the first runs up on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning when junior infielder Jack Wisniewski hit a double with the bases loaded, bringing three runs across home plate.
Trinity closed out the second inning with a 5–0 lead and maintained that lead despite being unable to score another run until late in the evening. The Tigers scored five runs in the seventh inning, highlighted by a solo home run off the bat of junior catcher Tyler Pettit, before adding on another two runs in the eighth inning to beat Endicott 12-4.
For the second game of the series, the sun came out and so did the fans. A crowd of approximately 160 people came out to enjoy the warm weather and some afternoon baseball.
Trinity opened the scoring with a two-run double by junior outfielder Jack Vonderhaar in the bottom of the first inning. Senior pitcher James Nittoli kept Endicott in check until the top of the eighth inning, when the Gulls hit a solo home run. Trinity tacked on four insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, extending their lead to 9–1. After Endicott scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning, senior pitcher Matthew Thomas got out of a bases loaded jam, allowing Trinity to escape with a 9–4 victory.
On Sunday, the series drew to a close on a cool, cloudy morning. Around 130 people turned out, and an anonymous fan brought potato and egg tacos and doughnuts for those who came out to the game.
Endicott turned the tables from the first two games and this time opened the scoring with three runs in the top of the first inning. Trinity responded with two runs in the bottom half of the first inning, and they slowly pulled ahead, scoring single runs in the bottom of the second and third before earning four runs in the fourth inning and two runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Gulls, however, refused to go down quietly, scoring two runs in the seventh inning and a solo home run in the eighth. Endicott continued to creep closer to the Tigers, scoring four runs in the top of the ninth and bringing the tying run to the plate before junior pitcher Joel Thomas managed to get the third out, securing the sweep for the Tigers with a 13–11 Sunday afternoon victory.
Sophomore pitcher Arjun Thakar reflected on the series as an overall success for the Tigers, but he identified room for improvement.
“It was great to get out on the field and compete against an aggressive Endicott lineup. Our offense really helped the pitching staff out with the runs they were able to score late in the game, and Corey Cater did a great job keeping the Endicott offense in check,” Thakar said. “Getting a series sweep is always fun, but I think we have a lot that we can take away from this weekend that we could improve on as a team.”
The team regularly plays two-and three-game series against the same opponents, which can be physically tiring. According to Matthew Thomas, the team trains to withstand the physical toll of back-to-back games.
“[Playing multiple days in a row] can be taxing on the body, just because if we pitch back-to-back days your arm gets hurt, so it’s a lot of taking care of your body. We lift a lot of weights to prepare for that so that our bodies can handle some of the more rigorous parts of the season,” Matthew Thomas said.
The stamina built up by weight training came in handy this past weekend, and the Tigers hope it will come in handy for the rest of the season including this weekend when the Tigers face No. 6 Babson College in another three-game home series that starts on Friday, Feb. 28.