Photo by Matthew Claybrook
In an exciting start to the baseball season, the No. 4 ranked Trinity University baseball team hosted their opening weekend against No. 8 Cortland College at the Trinity Baseball Field.
Due to rain, only two out of three games in the series were played, with the Tigers pulling ahead 9–8 on Saturday and 10–5 on Sunday.
Rafe Chaumette, junior left fielder, recognizes that the weather conditions were difficult to deal with but believes his teammates handled the situation well.
“Rain can be frustrating in baseball because it disrupts the schedule. Specifically this weekend, we only played two out of our three planned games. We also had to play the games at a later time than originally planned, so the main challenge was staying focused throughout the distractions. It can be difficult, but my teammates did a great job of handling the adversity,” Chaumette said.
On Saturday’s game, Cortland gained an early 2–0 lead after hitting two doubles in the top of the first inning.
In the fourth inning, the Red Dragons extended their lead to 4–0, but Trinity answered with two runs of their own after Chaumette’s groundout to second base allowed junior outfielder Mason Meredith to score.
With a two-out throwing error by Cortland, senior outfielder Jake Martin reached home to narrow Cortland’s lead to 4–2.
“My main focus in that at-bat was to bring Mason home. Typically in a situation like that, I would like to put the ball in the air, but it did the job so I was satisfied. The whole team did an amazing job of playing team baseball this weekend, and it showed in the result,” Chaumette said.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Martin’s leadoff double and third base steal allowed him to score after a single by senior catcher and infielder John Tucker.
A hit by MJ Metz, first-year third baseman, led to a throwing error that brought the game to 4–4 after Tucker reached home.
For the first time in the game, Trinity took the lead in the seventh inning after a double by junior catcher Michael Goodrich.
His hit brought Chaumette and sophomore infielder Jack Wisniewski home.
Tucker’s hit led to another Cortland error that brought in a third run to bring Trinity’s lead to 7–4.
In the top of the eighth, Cortland started with a single and a hit-by-pitch.
One runner took third on a wild pitch, and the other stole second after a strikeout while a double to right field brought both players home to give Cortland an 8–7 lead.
To start the final inning, Martin’s leadoff single was followed by a walk from Chaumette.
Tucker tied the game two batters later with a single up the middle, then senior infielder Dalys Binder hit a shallow fly ball the center.
The fly ball was dropped, and ended the game after Chaumette ran home to seal the win for Trinity at 9–8.
“Walk-off wins are always a blast. It was a really exciting way to start the season. The team battled the whole game, and to come on top was such a good feeling. Being the final runner, I knew that nothing was going to stop me from scoring. Those are the types of games this team is going to have to keep winning to get to where we want to be,” Chaumette said.
Sunday provided an opportunity for the Tigers to start fresh with a new game.
The Tigers quickly outscored the Red Dragons at the start, with Trinity gaining a 4–1 lead by the end of the first inning.
“I believe that in baseball, it’s important not to ride the ups and downs, and it’s important to treat every day like it’s a new day. On Sunday, the team came out hungry to finish the weekend the way we started it, and that definitely showed by jumping off to a hot start,” Chaumette said.
Trinity further extended their lead to 5–1 in the third inning after an error by Cortland allowed junior infielder and outfielder Brannen Caraway to score.
Although Cortland led off with a homerun at the start of the sixth inning, the scoring differential in the game remained at four runs after a single by Tucker brought Chaumette home.
“It was very crucial to get an early lead in the game. When playing a good team like Cortland, we knew we couldn’t get too far behind. The early runs definitely helped us settle in and play comfortable and allowed our pitchers to be more aggressive and more fearless,” Goodrich said.
In the seventh inning, Cortland scored again after a walk and a single combined with a ground out to drive one Cortland runner home.
The Tigers responded with an offensive push, in which Tucker’s double to left center brought Martin, Chaumette and Michael Goodrich home to extend Trinity’s lead to 9–3.
After a two-run homerun and double by Cortland, senior pitcher Ian Hussian was sent in for the Tigers.
Trinity finished off the eighth inning with a double by junior outfielder Mason Meredith that sent Metz home.
Metz was the final scorer of the game for the Tigers, who won 10–5 after Hussian closed out the game with two scoreless innings, during which he didn’t allow a hit and struck out three Cortland batters.
“Coming in during those late innings, there’s really only one job to be done: get your team out of the situation and off the field. There’s plenty of things to work on and get better at, but it was good to get the feet wet this first weekend,” Hussian said.
In notable statistics for the weekend, Martin went 3–5 on Saturday with three runs scored while Tucker went 3–4 with five runners batted in during Sunday’s victory.
Given his impressive hitting, Tucker was selected as 2019’s first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Hitter of the Week.
Additionally, Chaumette scored two runs on each day, while Goodrich scored three total.
In Sunday’s game, junior pitcher James Nittoli allowed just two runs on eight hits during his 5 innings of pitching and struck out six batters without allowing a walk.
“We battled through tough field conditions and got two wins, which is all that matters. It was cold and wet, so I was just trying to work fast to keep our fielders active and get us back in the dugout as soon as possible. Overall, I was able to get in a good rhythm and throw a lot of strikes,” Nittoli said.
Despite the rainy conditions and temperatures in the 30s, game attendance was 250 people on opening day.
Chaumette gives a special thanks to his family for their support and his teammates for their consistent performance.
“Personally, it is always a joy to have my grandfather at my games. At 84 years old, he still always finds the energy to make it to my games, and he will never know how much it means to me seeing him in the stands cheering me on. As for the team, Jake Martin and John Tucker, by no surprise to me or anyone on the team, tore it up this weekend. Those two guys are special players and the type of seniors that you look forward to playing with every single day,” Chaumette said.
Goodrich expressed similar praise regarding the performance of his teammates.
“John Tucker and Jake Martin had an amazing weekend. They really carried the offensive load. Dalys had a great first game at the DH spot, and Brannen had a great game in the second game. Rafe Chaumette got on base a lot and scored a ton of runs for us. It was awesome to see MJ Metz get his first career hit and just play great overall. Lastly, we really appreciated having the alumni and parents come out because they created a great environment to play in,” Goodrich said.
With their consecutive victories, the Trinity team improved their season record to 2–0 while Cortland fell to 0–2.
In their next game on Friday, Feb. 15, the Tigers will take on Birmingham-Southern College at home.
“I’m excited for some warmer weather and no rain on the forecast but mostly just for the opportunity to go back out there and compete again. Birmingham-Southern is another team we don’t normally have on our schedule, so it’s really cool to have the chance to play some new teams and show them what Trinity baseball is about,” Goodrich said.