After winter weather cancelled its first seven doubleheaders, the Forester baseball team took the field March 11 for the 2015 season opener. On the road in Westfield, Ind., HU faced Madonna University, who was entering its 14th game of the season.
The Foresters dropped both games, 7-9 and 2-10, to the seasoned Crusaders. Game one was a tight contest, ending in extra innings.
“With the spring weather being bad all-around the Midwest and mid-south, it was great to just be able to be on a field,” said head coach Mike Frame.
Following their first doubleheader, the Foresters traveled to Lakeland, Fla., to compete in the Russ/Matt Tournament. On the first day of play, HU captured its first season victory, defeating NCAA Division I Cornell University March 15.
HU faced a two-run deficit at the end of the first frame but held the Bears scoreless in the remaining innings to notch the 7-2 win. The Foresters tacked on three runs in the fourth and added four more to the scoreboard in the eighth inning. Senior Kyle Zerfas and sophomore Tanner Wyse teamed up on the pitching staff to yield a combined five hits. Offensively, freshman Jamar Weaver doubled to register two RBIs, while sophomore Michael Crowley also doubled. Sophomore Shea Beauchamp contributed two hits.
“The win against Cornell just shows us that we can beat anybody we play against,” senior Billy Geeslin said.
Frame said Cornell, the only NCAA Division I team that competed in the tournament, is “always good” and was “solid” this year. He also said the competition faced in the start of the Foresters’ season was “the toughest we’ve had in recent years.”
Geeslin said most of the teams that the Foresters faced in Florida had already competed in 20 to 25 games in the 2015 season. The Foresters have been limited to indoor practices because of the inclement Midwest weather.
“Florida was a great time to be able to put all we had worked on indoors into action,” Zerfas said.
In the final day of the tournament, March 20, HU notched two victories, 3-0 and 2-1, in a doubleheader against Trinity Baptist College. In the first contest, Garrett Scott registered the win on the mound, giving up just one hit. Senior Blake Holbein pitched in relief for two hitless innings, striking out three batters. Sophomores Dylan Henricks and Nate Stark tallied an RBI single apiece. Stark also doubled.
HU scored its first run of the second game against the Eagles in the fourth inning by way of a Beauchamp single. Stark, who started the inning with a triple, scored the run. In the eighth inning, Geeslin, senior Brock Gower and sophomore TJ Lindstrand strung together three sequential singles, with Lindstrand’s serving as the game-winning hit.
The Foresters posted an overall 3-4 performance for the week.
Following the team’s spring break trip, the Foresters return home to begin conference play. Despite the slow start, Zerfas is confident in the Foresters’ potential this season, saying that he and his team hope to surprise people.
“This is one of the most talented teams I have played on here at HU,” Zerfas said. “I know the ability is there. If we can show consistency in our approaches both at the plate and on the mound, then we will have a very successful year.”
One example of this was the Foresters (4-7 overall, 1-1 in CL matchups) splitting with conference foe Mount Vernon University, who ended the Foresters’ post-season run last year in the Crossroads League conference tourney.
Sophomore Dalton Combs brought in two runs in the top of the sixth to deliver the win for the Foresters while Zerfas came through on the mound. Adding to Combs’ offensive effort were Weaver and Stark, who each scored a run of their own.
The Foresters’ next contest will be a doubleheader Thursday, April 2 at home against Marian University beginning at 4:30 pm.