Baseball breaks losing streak against Wooster upon return

Gators gear up during spring break

The Allegheny baseball team returned home from their annual Florida trip with more than tan lines and dirt under their fingernails. - Gator pitcher Matt Dishong was named Pitcher of the Week by the North Coast Athletic Conference

After picking up five wins and losing two one-run games, the Gators were truly battle-tested. Head Coach Kelly Swiney was happy with their record, but believed they could have made it through the trip unscathed.

“We didn’t play well the entire time,” he said, “We played well a couple games and in parts of games, which was good to see, but we could see that we needed some improvement. Going 5–2 was nice, I thought that was what we were capable of.”

The tropical weather proved to warm up the Gator’s bats on the trip, as they hit .368 as a team in the seven games. Leading the way offensively for the Gators was first baseman Matt Stahl, ’11, who hit .454 with 13 RBIs and four home runs in the seven games.

Stahl explained that though they were playing hard in Florida, their efforts were focused on a heated rival awaiting them when they returned to Meadville.

“The whole theme of the trip was to get ready for Wooster,” he said. “I’m not saying those games [in Florida] weren’t important, but we were looking ahead and it was important to play well down there.”

The Gators showed their preparation on Saturday against the Fighting Scots and split the doubleheader, losing the first game 3–1, but responding with a 2–0 win at the Robinson Complex.

Strong pitching performances from David Stawser, ’11, and Matt Dishong, ’10, helped silence Wooster’s traditionally cacophonous bats. Dishong provided eight innings of scoreless relief in both games, and picked up the win in the second. Over the course of the double header, Allegheny held the #2 nationally ranked Scots to five hits.

Saturday’s win snapped a 15-game losing streak against the Fighting Scots, and was the first win against them since 2006, which was when the seniors now were seniors in high school.

“[The win] was huge,” said Dishong. “It gives us the confidence that we can beat any team because we just beat one of the top teams in the nation.”

“We had a great game plan going into the second game,” said Swiney. “We played errorless ball and that was a big difference.”

Sunday’s doubleheader was cancelled due to rain, despite the first game being moved to 10 a.m. to try to avoid the storms. The Gators are using the rainout as a chance to further improve in the next six games before they play Wooster again.

With a four game set scheduled against Hiram this weekend, the team looks to maintain their focus and not overlook the Terriers, who are 3–12 this season. Swiney is hoping to tighten up the team’s defense this weekend as well as have a more balanced offensive attack.

“Offensively, we need to be better one through nine,” he said. “We’ve been top heavy and those guys [at the top of the order] have really carried us and done an exceptional job, but we need to get offense from all those spots.”

Defensively, he wants to improve the team fielding percentage from .947 to the .960 range, which Stahl agrees with.

“Not booting the ball around is important. If you can field the ball you can stay in games,” Stahl said.

With six very winnable games ahead of them, next Saturday’s Springfest match-up against Wooster could possibly be the biggest day for Allegheny baseball in a long time, and promises to be a showcase of great baseball.

First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.