Autumn Zierman – Staff Writer
As the Spring weather makes its return to the Hill this year, spring sports are back in full swing. The Gustavus Men’s Baseball team opened this season in a sweeping double-header victory against Crown College Friday March 12. Both games ended in a landslide Gustavus victory, the first finishing 8-1 and the second 19-2.
This season opener marks what promises to be an interesting competitive season going forward with the largest team Gustavus Men’s Baseball has seen in Head Coach Brad Baker’s seven years coaching. The roster caps at fifty players this year, scheduled for a packed season that holds forty games in under two months, over half of which will be played at the newly renovated Gustie Baseball Field, Sports Information Director C.J. Siewert said in a press release earlier this month.
The filled-out roster should come as a surprise to no one following the Baseball team, Head Coach Baker is known around for his status as a “recruiting guru”. This year also marks the end of one of Coach Baker’s first recruiting classes, and they all look forward to finishing out a strong Baseball career at Gustavus.
With the upperclassmen leading the charge to a strong season and being well-known for it, it can be easy to forget about the up in comers that will one day take charge of the team. Talking with First-year Drake Siens about his experience having joined the team this year offers insight into what Gustavus Men’s Baseball can look like from the beginning looking forward, rather than a reflection from the end.
This season opener marks the first game played with the team for the 14 new first years. First-year Drake Siens was the first, and only, home run hitter for Gustavus at the Crown College games.
“I’m super excited for the upcoming season especially since the last time I played for my school was unfortunately cut short due to COVID. Coming into campus I was a little worried about how I was going to fit in since I came in a little late after staying home during the whole first semester. But the team has been super welcoming and they’re honestly a great group of guys,” Siens said.
This game was also, like many other sports, a bit different without the fans as COVID policies kept the stands clear. Fortunately, the team was able to keep itself in high spirits.
“Those first few wins on Friday really showed me a lot about the passion of the team,” Siens said.
All-in-all the games wrapped up with the Gusties achieving a combined 28 hits, which included six doubles, five triples, and a home run. The pitchers collected a total 22 strikeouts and 14 innings.
“Victory was very sweet and we were able to sub in other players who were able to contribute immediately which was very good to see,” Senior Christian Johnson said.
With an impressive sweep under their belt, the men’s team looks forward to an impressive season.
“The two wins on Saturday were a great way to start off the season. We have been ready to play ever since last year when we got shut down, so it was great to finally get back into competition,” Sophomore Luke Johnson said.
Luke recorded a base clearing triple in his first at bat as a Gustie.
With a landslide victory under their belts for the season opener, the rest of the next two months, though packed, looks bright. New regulations and rules are viewed with the trademark men’s baseball can-do attitude.
“This year is very different than most though with all the protocols and the constant chances of having to be quarantined in case the team does receive some positive COVID tests. We can’t really complain however since all the other teams in the MIAC have to deal with the same rules,” Siens said .
Establishing goals for the rest of the season seems to revolve around growing and maintaining team morale and camaraderie, as well as succeeding competitively.
“If I would use one word to describe the vibe of the team this year it would be “hungry” we know what we want to achieve and what needs to be done to get there,” Christian said.
This month’s schedule finishes out North of Saint Peter with a March 19 game against Augsburg, a game on the 23 with St. Scholastica. Packed into the last weekend on the 27, 28 and 31 are games with Saint Mary’s, Bethany Lutheran and St. Olaf respectively.
With a full few weeks ahead of them, and the team riding an opener success high, Gustavus is looking forward to what the Gustavus Men’s Baseball team does next.