The Allegheny baseball team opened its 2017 season with a weekend tournament against John Carroll University, ending the weekend 2–1.
“We scored 30 runs over three games. Anytime you average 10 runs a game, you’re going to win a lot, so I thought we did a great job with offense. Overall, our defense was pretty good as well. Certainly being on the turf helps a bit,” said infielder and captain Jacob Shick, ’17. “For being so early in the season, having our offense explode the way it did and the defense stand behind our pitching was really good.”
Head Coach Kelly Swiney said the team did a good job setting up their success in each game and getting big innings with multiple runs.
“In at least two of the games we scored with two outs, and that’s a big thing in baseball; if you can get those runs with two outs, you kind of demoralize the other team and pump your team up,” Swiney said. “From a pitching standpoint, we did a really good job with our starters. It’s early in the season, so we have them on a pitch limit because we don’t want to hurt anybody’s arm this early in the year, so all three of our starters were quality starts in my mind.”
Swiney said seeing the team succeed without Robert DiMaggio, ’17, one of the top two hitters for the team, was exciting.
“We saw some guys really step up,” Swiney said. “Chase Davis [’18]was a guy I thought really stepped up to start and he ended up getting six hits and being Gator Athlete of the Week, so it was neat to see different guys step up when they got their opportunity.”
Shick and DiMaggio said that finishing out games strong was an area they see as needing improvement this season.
“Towards the end of each game, the one thing that really struggled for us is that we aren’t really a second half team as of right now, and that showed this weekend,” DiMaggio said. “We’ll get up on our teams a lot and then they’ll chip away, and we can’t seem to finish out games that well.”
The weather and being back outside also posed challenges to the team, according to Swiney.
“Those first games out there, you’re dealing with wind and conditions and cold, outfielders are getting fly balls, the elements make it tough that first weekend,” Swiney said. “I thought we were pretty battle tested, and I think that’s really going to bode well going forward. It’s good to get tested like that mentally and physically early in the season.”
Swiney said that overcoming the challenges of the weekend and winning should give the team confidence going forward.
“We felt bad about losing game three. We were up 10–4 with three innings to go. But at the same time, they should feel like a confident bunch,” Swiney said.
As the team looks forward to their next games and preparing for the rest of the season, they have set short-term goals that they hope will help them achieve their long-term goal of winning the conference championship, according to Swiney.
“One thing that Coach has harped on, as well as ourselves, is that we don’t want to have goals based on numbers. This year, our goals are really team-oriented and daily-oriented. So it’s little simple things, like doing everything I can do today to get better right now or win every pitch, because once you do all the small goals, then everything else will take care of itself,” DiMaggio said.
Swiney said this season he is looking forward to the time at practices and games with the team and watching them get better as they compete.
“Our guys like to compete so they look forward to every game and playing each opponent. It’s a really experienced group — mostly upperclassmen. We have a great senior class and experienced junior group, so I look forward to working with a good group of guys that really want to achieve,” Swiney said.
The team has nine seniors this year, four of which have been chosen as captains for the team.
“You get sort of pensive about the last season and reflect upon how you’ve done the past few years and what you really want to get out of the experience. Just being able to play baseball in college and being able to play with your teammates is such a blessing,” Shick said. “But really just enjoying the experience and appreciating it to its fullest is what I’m really looking forward to.”
DiMaggio said he is looking forward to leaving everything out on the field during his senior season and being able to play games again when his injury heals.
“Even missing these three games was hard for me, so having no regrets and not take advantage of it now that I’ve had that feeling of missing a few games. I’m hoping to be back in the next few weeks, and I’ll be thankful for being out there and around the team,” DiMaggio said.
The Gators will play Case Western Reserve University in Washington, Pennsylvania on March 4 at 3 p.m.