Baseball ends winless streak
- Baseball starts season in south
- Steroid users should be in the Hall
- Baseball slams UMF, takes one from Bowdoin
Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, often quoted for his inaccurate yet oddly philosophical statements once said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical." Berra's math, although quite flawed, resonates with the baseball player and fan. In a game dictated by individual matchups (pitcher vs. batter, fielder vs. hard-hit groundball) and unforeseen outcomes (walk-off home runs, errors that lead to big innings), keeping one's mental edge is essential. Colby proved this week that it has not lost its mental approach even after a series of hard-luck losses this season. After giving up two late-inning leads to the University of Southern Maine (USM) and to Bowdoin College last week, the Mules traveled back down to Bowdoin on Sunday and took the series, winning both games in dominating fashion. The victories marked the first time Colby has beaten the Polar Bears in a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchup since 2002.
"We've talked a lot about what we can control as baseball players," senior first baseman and co-captain Ryan Conlon said. "The moments you have to influence a game are so fleeting that you have to stay mentally and physically prepared throughout an entire series."
The rollercoaster week started with the frustrating Southern Maine defeat at home on Wednesday, April 14. On the back of offensive performances from Brandon Nieuw '12 (three hits, three runs), Mike Mastrocola '12 (three hits, one run) and Richard Newton '11 (two-run homerun), Colby rode a 7-6 lead into the ninth. Unfortunately, a hit batter, an error and a bunt single loaded up the bases for the Huskies in the top of the ninth and they were able to capitalize. USM's Mike Eaton ripped a two-run single into left field and momentum effectively switched hands. The floodgates opened and the Mules ultimately lost with a final score of 11-7.
Two days later on Friday, April 16, the Mules experienced another disheartening outcome. Bowdoin (20-7, 3-2 NESCAC East) came to Coombs field on a hot streak and may have thought Colby (11-10, 2-7 NESCAC East) would roll over. On the contrary, Dominick Morrill '11 had another solid outing and the Mules had a 5-4 lead late in the game. However, the Polar Bears stormed back in the seventh, tying the game with a solo homerun from Brett Gorman and eventually took the lead with an RBI single from Dan Hicks. Bowdoin added an insurance run in the eighth and the Mules couldn't muster a comeback, falling 7-5.
"We have had so many close games this year where we have fallen short only in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Friday was another example. Coming in Sunday, we were just focused on playing strong through the entire game," senior co-captain Matt Moore said.
It was clear that the Colby pitching staff came into Saturday mentally prepared and willing to put it all on the line. Moore (6 innings, 7 hits, 1 ER, 1 K) outdueled Bowdoin ace Oliver Van Zant (5-0 at the time) in the first game and first-year Nate Sugarbaker (7 innings, 3 hits, 0 ER, 8 K) followed it up with a gem of his own in the second contest.
" This was the best day of pitching I've been a part of at Colby. Matt Moore and Nate Sugarbaker are two of the hardest working individuals on the team and all their off-season work was on display this weekend," Conlon said.
In game one, Conlon contributed to the win by plating the tying-run in the fifth with a bases- loaded single. Mastrocola, the next batter, was hit by a pitch, forcing home the winning run. In game two, the Mules took advantage of five Bowdoin errors with timely hitting. The game was still close, with a 4-1 Colby lead in the seventh, until Ken Kaufman '10 put the game away with a huge two-out, bases loaded single in the eighth. The final score read, 9-1 and more importantly, the Mules had ended a losing streak to a Maine rival and taken a series from one of the better teams in the NESCAC. Although Colby is mathematically out of playoff contention, there is still a lot of meaningful baseball left this year. "We got a polar bear on our mantle, now let's go hunt some bobcat," assistant coach Tom Dexter said. The Mules have a three game series this weekend against Bates College, two of which are at home on Saturday, April 24.