The Gustavian Weekly

Men’s Baseball season starts strongly: Gusties improve to 2-0 in MIAC play

By Jake Woodrich - Staff Writer | April 7, 2017 | Sports & Fitness

Junior Nolan Jepel competes in a game against Middlebury College on March 26. The Gusties won the game with a score of 10-8. The Gusties currently hold an overall record of 10-6.

Junior Nolan Jepel competes in a game against Middlebury College on March 26. The Gusties won the game with a score of 10-8. The Gusties currently hold an overall record of 10-6.

As springtime rolls around, so does America’s Favortie Pastime. For Gustavus, the beginning of the baseball season has been a great one. The Gustavus baseball squad currently boasts an overall record of ten wins and six losses. After a sweep of Carleton College last Saturday, the team is 2-0 against MIAC opponents as conference play gets underway.

“We have played well in most of our games thus far and we are excited to get deeper into our conference season. We have a good group of core players back from last year’s team and some really good new players,” Senior Pitcher Connor Kern said. Optimism about the season is common amongst the players and coaches.

“As the season goes, so far so good. We have a number of upperclassmen who are very talented ballplayers and awesome leaders. I believe we have enough talent to have a very good year, providing we can get in the right mindset to win more of the small battles every game presents. We really just care about conference play and got off to a good start by sweeping Carleton on Saturday,” Head Coach Brad Baker said. Coach Baker, who was once a Gustavus student and baseball player himself, is in his second consecutive year as head coach for Gustavus.

“Being in the second year of our rebuilding process, we certainly expect improvement this year,” Head Coach Baker said. Baker, along with the remainder of the coaching staff, which includes his brother and co-head coach Jeff Baker, are regarded very highly by the athletes on the team.

“We are very lucky to have the coaches we do. I’m not sure there is a better coaching staff out there. They not only do their best to help us be the best baseball players we can be, but they do their best to help us be the best person we can be,” Junior infielder Brock Peterson said. Peterson currently has a batting average of .305 and has started in all 16 games this season which is a large reason behind the early season success for the Gusties.

“We are off to one of the best starts to a season Gustavus Baseball has seen in a while. Non-Conference play was full of trips to South Dakota and Arizona. The travel and playing  of teams we normally don’t play was great for us, but starting MIAC play is where the fun begins,” Peterson said. Conference play may indeed be fun, but the fun began much earlier this season for the Gusties.

Before taking on any MIAC opponents, the team had already played a game at U.S. Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings, and played a whopping seven games in Tucson, Arizona during Spring Break.

The Gusties took on Mayville State in U.S. Bank Stadium in early March, unfortunately losing the game by a score of 6-5. Even though the outcome was not ideal, the experience is one that the team will never forget.

“It was unreal for all of us to be able to play in front of 60,000 people at U.S. Bank Stadium. My parents had a hard time getting tickets, but thankfully there were a couple that were selling theirs outside the stadium before the games. Playing at U.S. Bank Stadium was something for the memory box. There were many games before and after us, so it was great to just be able to be a part of it. I’m sure everyone on the team would say that it was a great experience,” Peterson said.

As for the Gusties’ time down in Arizona, the team was pleased with the way things went. The Gusties played seven games in a span of only five days, winning their first four games but falling in their final three to compile a record of 4-3 in the Tucson Invitational.

“Our trip to Arizona started off great, as we won our first four games down there. Unfortunately, we ended up losing our last three, but had a couple close losses. Arizona is a great place to get the whole team some innings. We had a lot of different guys stepping up and play well for us down there,” Kern said.

As the weather heats up here in Minnesota, so will the baseball season. The Gustavus Golden Gusties began the season strong and will look to continue their hot start into conference play and hopefully the postseason. The Gusties take the field next on April 5 when the team travels to Winona to take on St. Mary’s University.

Senior Isaiah Welckle warms up for the team’s game against Middlebury College. The Gusties take on UW-Superior next on April 7.