Hawks Baseball Drops Thrillers in Season Opener

The Hilbert College Baseball team opened their 2023 season with a double-header contest hosted by Chatham University Cougars just outside of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, dropping game one, 5-4, in a 12-inning thriller, and game two, 10-9.

Sophomore pitcher, Blaine Morgan, described the day as “an eventful day that was productive for the team because we were able to get our day one kinks out”. He followed that with saying “I am very excited to see where our team goes this season because we have a lot going for us and a high ceiling”.

The Hawks offense came out of the gate hot, with leadoff man Thomas Evans hitting a solo home run in the top of the first inning. Before the Chatham defense could get the first three outs, Patrick Whelan tripled and Jack Duffek drove in Whelan with a sacrifice fly ball to give Hilbert a 2-0 lead, early in the game.

The game would quiet down for the offense while Chatham was able to plate three runs to take the lead until a Derek Martinez single and a Alex Ellison sacrifice fly would score two runs to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead, going into the 7th inning. Chatham was able to squeeze the tying run across the plate in the final inning, which launched the game into extra innings.

Hilbert would not score a run for the remainder of the game while pitcher, Blaine Morgan would do his best to keep the Chatham bats silent. He was able to throw 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball until Chatham was able to win the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the 12th inning.

The 12-inning opening matchup was ranked the third most exciting game of the week by 6-4-3 Charts, a data reporting service for college sports.

Game two started off in similar fashion, with the Hawks offense striking early. Hilbert was able to push across three runs in the top of the first, coming from a leadoff triple from John Riviere, who was batted in by a Thomas Evan triple. Evans scored off of a Whelan sac fly to make it 2-0 and Derek Martinez scored on a Manny McClain single, making it 3-0.

The Chatham Cougars would later plate a single run in the second inning and third inning making it a score of 3-2 before the Hawks would push across two more runs in the top of the fourth.

With the score at 5-2 going into the bottom of the 5th, the Cougars would find their big inning, scoring a hefty 5 runs, giving them a 7-5 lead. This came off of timely hits with runners in scoring position, from their high-producing, middle of the order hitters.

The hawks did not lose focus after the big inning because they immediately tied the game in the top of the 6th with another Evans homerun and Ben Ratajczak reaching on an error that scored Frank McCabe. The  Cougars would respond with three more runs in the bottom of the 6th, making it 10-7. The hawks would rally in the top of the 7th, pushing across two more runs, making it 10-9 but did not have enough to tie the game or take the lead.

When asked about his overall experience, senior Pitcher Zack Panfil said that the cold Pittsburg weather did not hinder the Hawks and it was a productive day, overall.

“Even though it was cold, we still wanted to go out and compete,” Panfil said. “The outcome was unfortunate but we learned what we need to work on and we know what we need to do next weekend in Philly.”

After the opening day sweep, the Hawks Baseball team looks to even out their record as they head to Philadelphia, PA to play the University of Valley Forge on Sunday, February 25th. The team was set to play Rosemont college on Saturday but due to cold weather conditions, the Saturday games were canceled.

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