It was a big comeback season for your Lawrence University Vikings baseball team. They increased their conference wins by 10 this season, made it to the conference tournament for the first time in nearly 30 years and left with multiple all-conference honors.
The team finished out their outstanding season after dropping two games at the tournament. By taking second in the North Division of the conference, they were matched up with the South Division’s first seed, Monmouth College. The Scots rallied in the sixth inning, scoring six runs to make the score 8-3 and take the win.
Junior pitcher Chris Shaw had a great outing, allowing only five hits over five innings and striking out four. A few mistakes on defense combined with timely hits for Monmouth lead to a rough sixth inning and a loss for the Vikings. Seniors Matt Holliday and Travis Weber both finished 2-for-4 to set the tone for Lawrence. Weber hit a solid two-out solo homerun in the fourth, and the Vikings added a pair in the sixth, but their team-driven offense wasn’t quite enough to clinch the W.
With that loss, Lawrence dropped into an elimination game against Grinnell College, who had lost to St. Norbert College 12-11 earlier that day. Lawrence had to win this game against Grinnell if they wanted to see their season continue. Unfortunately, it turned out to be their last game.
Holliday went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two intentional walks and a total of four runs scored for Lawrence. His performance partnered with the hot bats of teammates Travis Weber, sophomore Patrick McDonnell, junior Andrew Lauber and sophomores Rudy Mueller-Schrader and Reno Zemrak to give the Vikings a solid offense.
The score of the game fluctuated but stayed close as each team battled fiercely for the win. A few late-game runs gave the Pioneers a 12-11 lead and their relief pitcher held the Vikings in the ninth inning. This marked the end of the 2018 season for Lawrence baseball.
Upon the end of the season, three Lawrence University baseball players and head coach Jason Anderson were all awarded All-Midwest Conference North Division team honors. Coach Anderson, in his tenth season at Lawrence, earned Coach of the Year for the first time. The team had 15 wins this season, went 8-8 in conference, finished second in the North Division, and earned its first MWC tournament berth since 1990. The team improved their record by 10 wins from last season and set the tone for great things to come.
Holliday earned his fourth straight MWC selection for his outstanding performance at the plate. He is the fourth player in Lawrence history to be a four team all-conference selection. He finished his career holding the Lawrence career records for RBIs (113), hits (194), and doubles (48).
Chris Shaw was given Pitcher of the Year after five unbelievable starts in conference play. His season ended with him having a 1.98 earned run average over 27 innings within conference. He struck out 22, walked 24, and only allowed six earned runs. This marks the first time a Lawrence pitcher has been named Pitcher of the Year.
Senior Kyle Duex earned all-conference honor, the first of his career. He had a 3-1 conference record, with a 3.90 earned run average over 32 innings pitched. He struck out 23 and walked 17 in conference play. He has racked up many fond memories over his career, but claims his favorite memories to be “Matt Holliday’s walk off hit versus Ripon earlier this season” but also how junior Nolan Spencer would tell him how much he hated each team they played, no matter what they had done. Duex knew that coming to Lawrence would give him the chance to play and would give him the opportunity to make an impact within his first couple of years.
The success that this team experienced this year came from the heart, soul and bond that all the guys have. Senior Ryan Clark says, “One of the highlights of having such a close team is the trust that we all have in each other. It is rare to see a team with this many people who are so well connected, and I think that has helped us a lot this season.” Senior Anthony Ortiz finds the brotherhood connection within baseball extremely important. Off the field, whenever they need a favor, someone to eat with, someone to lift with, they always had 15-20 guys they could text. Someone always responds. On the field, he says, “[The] chemistry is fantastic because everyone is comfortable with each other. When someone makes a mistake or clearly isn’t mentally there, each guy is comfortable holding them accountable, which is a direct result of us being so close.”
This team has experienced something amazing. They leave this season behind with many fond memories and full hearts thanks to baseball and the bond it has given them over the years. Clark would tell any future player to “trust and buy into each other. It doesn’t matter what other teams do or what coaches say, if there is a certain level of trust between teammates, it can change a season.” Senior Kyle Duex would remind those who still have seasons to come to “embrace the moment. If you don’t take time to enjoy what you’re doing, what’s the point of doing it?” But above all, as Ortiz says, “Don’t count yourself out. You can be as good as you want to be, it’s just a matter of how bad you want it and how hard you work for it.”
Congratulations on a great season of baseball. You have set the tone for teams to come. You have set the tone for Lawrence Athletics.