Yeomen sluggers snag bottom of the seventh win

by Rory Keohane

Eye on the ball

After splitting a double header on Saturday, the men's baseball team dropped two more on Tuesday against PSU-Behrend University.

Two critical moves put the Yeomen into winning position in Saturday's second game against Case Western Reserve University: clutch pinch hitting and a pitcher who could hurl a complete game. Combined, the two yielded the Yeomen's fourth win of the season.

The first six innings of the second game left the Yeomen down 1-0. But going into the bottom of the seventh, the Yeomen refused to be swept in their last regularly scheduled game at Dill Field.

First-year LuRey Anderson singled to start off and was replaced by senior James Richter as a pinch runner. Richter advanced to second on a passed ball.

After sophomores Matt Burns and Ray Cagen were retired, Coach Eric Lahetta looked to the bench for some spark.

Looking down the bench, sophomore Zach Fine became the man to hit for junior Jason Quinn. Fine had not expected to play due to a finger injury which had sidelined him for the first game of the double header.

"I hadn't expected to play, but I felt intense all day long," said Fine.

The first two pitches were strikes that blew right by Fine. Down in the count, Fine fought back to a full count with Richter still in scoring position.

"Coach pulled me aside and said, 'this is the position you want to be in,'" said Fine.

Fine blooped the next pitch over the first baseman's head, keeping the Yeomen alive and sending the game into extra innings.

Lahetta lauded Fine's performance in the pressure situation.

"Zach came through big. He had a late start and has been struggling, but he came through in a big way for our team," Lahetta said.

Junior Carson Keeble continued to baffle the Spartan batters, striking out the side, and giving his offense a chance to put the game away.

Center fielder first-year Chris Irish walked to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. After he stole second, Case was forced to intentionally walk first-year Andy Smith, hoping for a force-out or a double play.

Next to the plate was the Yeomen's batting leader, junior Dave Schummers, who took the sign from Lahetta, and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt with infielders charging from the corners.

"It was the right call," said Schummers. "I only wish I could have beat out the throw to first," he said.

After the Case pitcher walked another batter to load the bases, sophomore Mark Sackman was in the position to drive in the winning run with the bases loaded.

"I only needed one, but I decided to point to center anyway," said Sackman.

Earlier in the season, Sackman was in the same position, only to see three strikes blow by him. This time he was sure not to let that happen again.

"I was thinking to myself, here I am back in this position with the game on the line," Sackman said.

The first pitch hit Sackman in the left shoulder, walking in the game winner.

"It felt good. I was smiling the minute I saw the pitch," said Sackman.

The Oberlin bench erupted as the winning run trotted home.

"I was real proud of the way the players came back after a tough loss," said Lahetta.

The Yeomen had dropped the first game of the double header 10-6, after hanging tough with Case until the sixth inning. In the top of the six, Case blew the game open scoring five runs, before adding two more in the seventh inning.

Oberlin erupted in a late rally, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh, but would have to wait for the second game to clinch a win.

"In the first game we had a couple of breakdowns on defense when we just didn't make the play," said coach Lahetta. "You win by playing D and Pitching," he said.

In the first game, Keeble's complete game performance was crucial for the win.

"Keeble pitched a fine game. He's a real competitor," said Lahetta.

After not being able to mount the comeback in the first game of the doubleheader, the Yeomen were determined to win the second.

"Going into the game we thought we could beat this team, so when we were down, we did not worry," said Schummers, whose sacrifice bunt was the biggest play next to Fine's clutch single.

Schummers and the rest of the team were proud of their determination that allowed them to fight back all afternoon.

"We went down big, and fought back," said Schummers.

On Saturday, the Yeomen looked like a team with each player stepping up to call in pressure situations.

"Zach was the most inspirational person that day, even from the bench. Every single inning he was helping the team out," said Schummers. "You just knew when he got the call to pinch hit that he was going to come through and give us a chance to win."

While pumped up with the weekend's win, the Yeomen were unable to establish a win streak, losing Tuesday's double header against PSU-Behrend, 9-1 and 10-2.

The team looks forward to picking up a few wins this weekend at Kenyon College.

"I think we can take two on Saturday against Kenyon," said Schummers.

Eye on the ball: The baseball team saw better hitting and defense in their win over PSU Behrend last week. (photo by John Matney)


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Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 23, May 1, 1998

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