This week, the Gustavus Baseball team escaped the cold and traveled to Tucson, Arizona to kick off their 2019 season.
Heading into the Tucson Invite, the team seemed to be fired up and ready to show everyone how much of a threat they can be this season in the competition for the MIAC title.
“I heard that we were picked fourth in the conference,” Head Coach Brad Baker said regarding the MIAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. “I don’t care about that and this team has no interest in being fourth. The vision of this team is to compete for a conference championship. This isn’t a little hobby for [the coaches]. We have guys looking around saying ‘why not us?’ You can’t control talent. Either you got it or you don’t. We have it.”
While they were there, the Gusties competed in eight games and had some strong performances throughout.
The team’s confidence was on full display in the first game at the Tucson Invite, winning their opener against Caltech with a decisive 18-3 victory.
Senior Adam Stockwell started on the mound for the Gusties and pitched five innings, allowing three runs and striking out seven opponents.
Sophomores Christian Johnson and Damon Rademacher relieved Stockwell and each pitched one scoreless inning.
Sophomore Cole Pengilly led the offense for the Gusties, going 4-for-5 on hits with four RBI and three runs of his own.
The following day, the team took on Jamestown in a doubleheader.
In the first game the team showed its resiliency and ability to battle its way back into a game after going down 7-0 at the end of the fourth inning.
Senior Dexter Leer was the first to close this gap, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Sophomore Carter Clemensen.
Jamestown came thundering back however, adding on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth and then proceeded to hold the Gusties scoreless in the sixth.
What happened next was something few would have predicted.
With only three outs remaining in the game for the Gusties, they still managed to score ten runs in the top of the seventh on eight hits, taking the lead by a score of 11-10.
Rademacher closed out the seventh on the mound for the Gustie win, pitching a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to end the game.
The second game was completely opposite from the one earlier that morning, with only three runs being scored.
Jamestown got their revenge on the Gusties after their comeback win earlier that day, winning the second game by a score of 2-1.
Senior Sam Archer scored the lone run for the Gusties and batted 2-for-3 on the day.
The following day, the team suffered another defeat at the hands of Aurora University, an undefeated team that recently received votes in the latest d3baseball.com poll.
Sophomore Nathan Lindberg led the offense that day with two hits, while five other Gusties added to the effort with one hit each.
Despite this effort it wasn’t enough to topple Aurora and the team lost by a score of 7-2.
After the first four games of the tournament, the team held a record of 2-2, proving they have some things to work out but have a lot of potential to be a top team in conference play. The remainder of the games were played during the time of publication.
This trip to Tucson served as a strong statement for the team, proving they have the talent and competitive ability to be a great team this season.
As the Gusties return to campus, they turn their focus to the upcoming non-conference games to continue learning how to play together and grow as a team.
“The next thing is energy and effort. I like what we’ve seen so far. We can have more, but I like the work they are putting in. Then it’s the whole mental side of the game. If they don’t believe it, they’re not going to achieve it,” Baker said.
If the weather is acceptable, the Gusties are set to host UW-Stout for back-to-back doubleheaders March 16 and 17.