This past weekend, Lawrence University’s baseball team competed in some grueling games against Beloit College and Ripon College as they wrapped up their season. The team spent both Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, traveling. On Friday, they lost their doubleheader conference match at Beloit, while on Saturday they split the doubleheader at Ripon, winning the nightcap 5-4. On Sunday, the Vikings played at home against Ripon again and unfortunately lost both games in the doubleheader. This season has not been kind to the Vikings, but they attempted to make the best of what they could.
“The games this past weekend wrapped up a season that did not go the way we wanted it to at all,” stated junior captain Ethan Jones. The Vikings lost the opening game 7-2. The Vikings scored early on in the game, having their only two runs come in the first inning from junior Patrick McDonnell and sophomore Nick Pastrone. The Vikings only had two hits, while Beloit managed to have six hits and seven runs, all coming from the fourth inning. In the nightcap, Beloit came out on top 5-1. Freshman Spenser Ross gave the Vikings a run in the ninth inning. Beloit finished the nightcap with eight hits and this time around, the Vikings finished with seven hits. Although the Vikings did not have much luck against Beloit, the games against Ripon proved to be in better atmosphere and better standing.
“Among the teams in our conference, I think the character of the players on Ripon definitely exceeds that of the other teams,” Jones stated when talking about the games and the atmosphere against Ripon. “It was a pleasure to share the field with those guys. These games definitely had the best atmosphere, both home and away, of any other series this year in my opinion. The turnout at both venues was amazing, it always makes playing a little more fun when there are a couple hundred people there.” At Ripon, the team managed to split a double header, losing the opening game 5-3 and winning the nightcap 5-4. Going into the eighth inning of the first game, the Vikings were down by one. Thanks to the work of Jones, Ross and senior Nolan Spencer, the Vikings had a successful inning and took the lead 3-1. However, Ripon scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth on seven hits to come out ahead of the Vikings.
In the nightcap, the Vikings were once again trailing behind Ripon going into the sixth inning. In the top of the sixth, Spencer, Jones, freshman Jacob Rosenberg and Ross together scored four runs to take the lead. This big inning, with the help of junior Rudy Mueller-Schrader, who scored the winning run for the Vikings, carried them to their win of 5-4. The Vikings had only five hits again, while Ripon managed to get 13 hits throughout the second game.
On Sunday, the Vikings were not as fortunate on their home turf as they were while away and lost both games in their last home doubleheader of the season. The Vikings lost the opening game 16-3, with runs from Ross, Jones and junior Reno Zemrak. The Vikings lost the nightcap 11-1 with a sole run from junior Mike Brady. In the opening, the Vikings managed four hits, while in the nightcap, they had five. With this being the end of the season and no post season to look forward to, the Vikings are now focusing on next season. After having a rough season this year that caused some issues amongst the members, they are ready to start moving forward.
“There were some major adjustments for the program going into this season,” commented Jones. “We had almost an entirely new coaching staff, we had lost a large chunk of our core players and we had a lot of first-year guys who had to take on big roles right out of the gate.” With graduating seniors Chris Shaw, Andrew Lauber and Nolan Spencer leaving soon, the team will be losing three of their core players, but they will be replaced with one of the biggest baseball recruiting classes for Lawrence in recent years, which will help cushion the team for competition next year. Jones praised his fellow teammates that will be graduating, saying, “Chris Shaw has been huge for us and has been one of, if not the best pitcher in the Midwest Conference over the past two years. Andrew Lauber has been battling injuries for the past two years; however, every second he has been on the field he makes a difference. Andrew is one of those guys who can do it all and makes any team he plays on better. Nolan Spencer has been one of the best players in Lawrence baseball history. Any time you need to try and replace a guy who holds as many records as he does, you definitely have a challenge ahead of you to say the least.” The Vikings will continue to work over the summer individually to prepare for next season in hopes for a better outcome than this one.