For the average baseball fan, Lawrence’s 1-0 victory in the first of the four-game series against Beloit last weekend, April 22, might not have been the most exciting game to watch. However, for the Lawrence players and coaches, it couldn’t have gone much better.
To start, freshman pitcher Drew Doares threw a complete game shutout while striking out four and scattering five hits, the first Lawrence pitcher to throw a shutout in three years. The performance was impressive as Doares stayed out of trouble the entire game not allowing more than two runners on base in a single inning and no runner even reached third base. Doares’ pitching performance, followed by another five-hit shutout thrown by freshmen Atley Gay and Phil Clark the next day at Beloit, was sorely needed.
Lawrence’s 3-32 record last year was in large part due to pretty terrible pitching. Terrible might even be an understatement. The team compiled an ERA of 11.18 for the season, while the opposition managed to throw an ERA of 3.27 against Lawrence. As the old adage goes, pitching wins championships — and while Lawrence is not yet in a position to do that, they have vastly transformed the team from last year.
In addition to improved pitching, Lawrence’s offense, while not flashy by any means, manufactured the only run of the game in the first inning by good old-fashioned execution. Outfielder Davide Harris led off the game with a double and then was moved over to third by a swinging bunt from hot-hitting Gabe Henriques. With one out, Eric Bohling knocked in Harris with the first of his three hits of the game. Get him on, get him over, get him in. Even though Beloit’s Alex Norman threw a great game as well, Lawrence’s offense delivered and got the job done.
On top of the good fundamental offense displayed in the first inning, the Vikings played solid defense all game, highlighted by a flawless third inning 5-4-3 double play. In both of the weekend’s victories the Vikings committed no errors compared to the six committed in the two losses. In order for the Vikings to take their game to the next level, the team will have to execute more consistent defense.
While the team has improved immensely from last season, the Vikings will have to make a big move next week against region leader St. Norbert College and then Carroll University in order to secure a playoff spot. If the guys can keep up the stellar pitching and sprinkle in consistent solid defense, anything can happen. Even if the team comes up short, this season has been a huge success and also a great building block for seasons to come.