By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer
The sun was peering out from behind the clouds, and the weather seemed perfect for the UMF Baseball team’s debut game at Hippach Field this season. The Beavers came out to an impressive crowd for a Tuesday afternoon, sporting their new striped jerseys and ready to take on Husson University Eagles for a conference doubleheader.
“Having played twenty-one road games and having no outside practices,” said Head Coach Chris Bessey, “it felt phenomenal to get on Hippach and play…in front of home fans was great and I think reenergizing to our players for the stretch run of the season.”
The Eagles came out attacking in the second inning earning their first run. It didn’t take long for the Beavers to answer back. Shortstop Jimmy Parks hit a single to get the team going. Up next was senior first baseman Mark Leahy, who crushed a double, sending Parks around second, where he lost his helmet. The intensity of the stadium rose as Parks came around third; he was going all the way. He dove head first into home plate, just barely beating the catcher’s tag. Parks emerged from the daring play to his teammates swarming him off the bench.
By the fourth inning, the weather started to take a turn for the worse as the rain began to fall. As the field became more wet, the Beaver’s bats became dry. The team would go on to record only one more hit that game. Despite the strong defensive showing by the team and freshman pitcher Justin Rodrigue, the Eagles proved to be a threat at the plate in the first game with nine hits and the 5-1 win.
With a quick half hour break in between games, the team didn’t get much time to shake off a loss. “In between games, we just mentally prepared,” said center fielder Tyler Flayhan, “and talked about trying to grind out our at-bats and put more runs up in the next game.”
Among the fans in the crowd was Eric Aguiar, a member of the UMF golf team. He has attended three games this season. “It’s difficult this year to go to a lot of games because of the heavy winter and the late melting of the snow,” said Aguiar, referring to the fact that until this game, the Beavers played all home games at Husson due to the conditions of Hippach Field.
“I enjoy watching the team because I hang out with a lot of the guys that play,” said Aguiar, “so it’s fun to go out and support the Beavs.”
UMF struggled finding their rhythm at the plate early in the second game, while Husson sent home three runs in the third inning. The Beavers battled back though, matching the score in the fourth inning. Husson came back with two scores in the following inning, leaving the teams with final score of 5-3. UMF improved their hits to seven.
“Losses are never fun,” said Flayhan, “but with such a busy schedule, we have to flush it and move on to the next games and focus on those games.” Flayhan wasn’t exaggerating about their busy schedule. The team went on to play an additional four doubleheaders that week.
The Beavers’ record fell to 3-20, while the Eagles improved to 20-14. “Out of our 20 losses, 15 have been by 3 runs or less, which can be frustrating on everyone,” said Bessey. “The job is to learn from every situation and get better from it, make the adjustment to succeed, not dwell on the failures.”
“I’d say that we just need to find a way to get the bats rolling some more, but our pitching and defense has been pretty solid all year,” said Flayhan. “Once the hitting comes around, we will be all set.”