By Harry Davis
On February 16, the Sewanee Baseball team lost to the Spalding University Golden Eagles 14-2 before they dropped the next two games on February 18, 8-4 and 22-4.
Spalding had a 29-16 record last year and lost their last six games. The Golden Eagles had an explosive offense and outscored their opponents 282-187 and gained 642 total bases to 462 for their opponents. They also had a stout defense that cut down on mistakes, with 47 errors to their opponents’ 71, yet still played aggressively enough to turn 66 double plays to the opponents’ 39. Spalding was ranked highly last year and entered the season at number three in the NCAA’s opening set of Central region rankings.
The Tiger’s four games against Louisiana College were canceled and look to get back to action after a long break against a tough opponent in Spalding University. Due to rain, the games were moved from Sewanee’s field to McCallie in Chattanooga. After a loss Friday, the Tigers looked to even the series at one and one against the Golden Eagles.
The Tigers’ offense started off strong when Beau Allen (C’18) made it to first base off a Golden Eagles error before Chris McNulty (C’20) homered to bring two runs home. Spalding then finished the inning with two strikeouts.
Utility player Drew Mancuso (C’18) and the Tiger defense stifled the Golden Eagles early with six strikeouts and three outs from pop flies in the first three innings. Spalding scored twice in the top of the fourth inning and shutout Sewanee in the fifth inning before both teams went scoreless in the fifth to make the score 2-2 at the top of the sixth inning.
Spalding then scored at the top of the sixth to go up by one before Riley Brandvold (C’19) hit out to center field on a sacrifice fly, which allowed Josh Roberts (C’10) to score. The inning finished with another score by Derek Hullings (C’18) to put Sewanee up one at the top of the seventh.
Sewanee’s offense soon went cold as Spalding scored once in the seventh and eighth inning before they put in three more in the ninth to end the game and make the score 8-4 Spalding. Overall, a close game for the Tigers, as they were up one with three innings left against a good team but were unable to produce runs late in the game.
Sewanee’s hitting ability was evident as Spalding only had one more hit than Sewanee, 10-9, but Sewanee was unable to get the same scoring from those hits that Spalding did.
Sewanee now sits at 1-5 after a tough start to the season against some talented teams. The season is early and the record is not indicative of the type of games that Sewanee has played; the team began the season with a trial by fire of sorts as they played two teams that were at some point ranked in the top five of Division III baseball last year.
Although still losses, these early season games will provide Sewanee with important lessons and areas to improve on over the course of the season.
Sewanee will play Centre College at home in a three-game series with two games on Saturday, March 3, and one game on Sunday, March 4.