Baseball starts season in the sun

A 15-0 win highlights the weekend trip to Arizona.

Jake Kjos, Senior Reporter

Baseball flew to Arizona to bask in the warm weather and begin their season after they narrowly missed the playoffs last year. The team played in a four game series to test their skills against different schools in the Tucson Invitational.

Before the team got out to play outside with temperatures in the high seventies, they went through difficult four hour practices in order to prepare for the season. Junior third basemen Rick Tormey talked about some of the things the team has done to become more cohesive.

“We’ve been doing more team-building team meetings to help slow down the game. We’ve taken a focus on what we can do as a team,” he said.

This team building has created an air of optimism that the players are hoping to ride to the playoffs down the road. Junior first basemen Jacob Picht praised the pitching staff and talked about the team’s mindset going into the season.

“All-around our pitching staff is better than it has been. This is definitely the most bought-in team in our three years,” Picht said.

Tormey talked about the goals for the team and some of the things they do in order to stay focused.

“We make sure that we win twenty games. We’ll try to win weeks, so if there are six games we’ll try to win four. Our main goal is always to make the conference tournament,” Tormey said.

With the team on the brink of the playoffs last year, they plan to take the next step forward and reach that higher level. Tormey talked about how the team will look going forward despite not having all of the same players from that team.

“We had a couple of guys that really contributed last year move on. We’ve got a really nice core,” Tormey said.

Junior outfielder Collin Olstad had similar thoughts about filling the holes left by departing seniors such as shortstop Chris Zeller.

“It’s business as usual, there are plenty of guys that can fill the roles and everyone has been putting in their work to earn a spot,” Olstad said.

The first 14 games of the season will be played in Tucson, and Tormey described the way the schedule in Arizona was set up to prepare them for the season.

“Intentionally difficult. We’re not sure what to expect. It’s deliberately going to be challenging,” he said. “It will be challenging but it should be really fun.”

Hamline opened up the season Sat. March 5 with a 15-0 blowout win against Marian University from Wisconsin. Sophomore Alex Bauermeister started the game and only gave up two hits in six innings pitched. The top of the order did the majority of the damage against Marian, and began the scoring onslaught in the third with a pair of runs.

In the sixth inning, the Pipers scored seven runs to take a 9-0 lead. Hamline combined for seventeen hits in the game, with three triples being the highlight. Tormey led the team going 5-5 with three runs and two RBI’s. Picht, senior centerfielder Dan Moro and senior shortstop Tyler Summers also had two RBIs.

Whitman College from Washington was the team’s second opponent, and they proved difficult to beat as the Pipers lost 5-17. The Tucson Invitational had many large defeats like this, but the teams also had close battles between each other as Whitman was tied in the eighth inning with Marian 5-5 in the first game they played. Marian won that game 6-5 before facing Hamline a second time on Sunday, March 6.

Hamline led 5-2 in the second inning before a six run fourth inning from Marian put them ahead. The pipers rallied in the eighth inning with four runs to put them down 10-11, but they couldn’t close the gap and lost the game.

Picht talked about the team’s focus and the philosophy they use to keep improving as the season goes on.

“The little things, just finishing games. Games are nine innings, not eight. Every out matters,” Picht said.

Olstad echoed this approach.

“It’s the little things on and off the field that will make the difference,” Olstad said. “The MIAC is a very competitive conference and every team is within reach of the playoffs, it will really come down to which team pays better attention to the details.”

Hamline will play in Arizona through the end of March and play their first games in Minnesota at St. John’s on April 2.