<< Front page Sports April 9, 2004

Baseball gains momentum

The Spring Break tour to Tennessee and Florida turned out to be a motivational tool for the Oberlin baseball team early in the season.

Senior pitcher and third baseman John Damron cited the stadium announcer at Florida Gulf Coast University as a motivating factor when he stepped up to the plate.

“The way he said, ‘three-run jack!’ was tight. It made me want to hit a jack,” Damron said with a laugh. “That was the choicest ballpark we’ll have the privilege of playing at this year.”

Other members of the team may have found other sources of inspiration, but they seemed to do the trick. Since the start of the 2004 campaign, the Oberlin College baseball team has traveled to Maryville, Tenn. and Ft. Myers, Fla. for the annual Gene Cusse Classic, maintaining a .500 record (6-6) going into their home opener against Case Western Reserve University.

Head coach Eric Lahetta credited his pitching staff and defense for the team’s solid play in the early part of the season.

“The pitching has kept us in every game we’ve played this year,” he said.

Despite losses in their last three games, in which they surrendered 15, eight and nine runs respectively, the bigger picture has been more encouraging for the Yeomen pitching staff.
In their first nine contests of the season, Yeomen pitchers allowed no more than five runs in a single game.
Senior righthander Peter Wyatt has led the way, getting run support and posting a 2-1 record with a 2.12 ERA over 17 innings.

Senior southpaw Troy DeWitt has been the workhorse of the staff so far, compiling a deceiving 0-3 record with a 5.40 ERA over 18.1 innings.

DeWitt dominated in his first two starts against Grove City College and Lawrence University, yet took the hard-luck losses in both games.

Damron has also eaten innings for the Yeomen, notching a win and a loss with a 4.11 ERA over 15.1 frames pitched.

Lahetta stressed that defense has also been responsible for the team’s stinginess thus far.

“We are strong up the middle and that really helps,” he said.

First-year shortstop Seth Binder, sophomore second baseman Nick Broughton and first-year centerfielder Chad Kutting have had most of the playing time at their positions, taking pressure off the team’s pitchers through their solid work with the leather.

Lahetta would like to see his team’s hitting come around to match the pitching.

“Offensively, we really need to get it going,” Lahetta said. “Some of our veterans are struggling right now, but they are working hard to turn it around.”

Kutting and DeWitt have been the Yeomen’s catalysts at the plate thus far. Kutting has proven to be an effective table setter in the leadoff position, with eight runs scored and a .459 on base percentage.

DeWitt has posted a .454 batting average with a team-leading nine runs driven in.

The Yeomen begin their NCAC schedule against the College of Wooster, ranked seventh overall in Division III, with a pair of doubleheaders this weekend.


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