Baseball rebounds from slow start
By Deep Katdare
After a listless offense led to
a 4-10 start, the MIT baseball team rebounded with five victories in six games to post a 9-11 mark going into this week's four consecutive games.
The Beavers hosted Curry College and Babson College Wednesday and Thursday before taking on Clark University today at home and visiting nationally third-ranked Division III power Brandeis University tomorrow.
The weekend of April 19-21 at Briggs Field was the Beavers' turning point. That weekend, in the inaugural Constitution Athletic Conference championship tournament, the Beavers twice overcame two-run deficits in the final inning to defeat Norwich College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 4-3 and 5-4, respectively, putting the squad in position to become the conference's first champions by defeating Babson yesterday. (The championship was postponed due to rainy weather on the tournament weekend.)
Norwich fell victim to MIT's resiliency as well as their own inadequacy on the CAC tourney's first day.
The third and winning run in the Beaver's decisive rally came on a full count, two-out, bases-loaded walk to senior Scott Toussaint, following a big double by
Brooks Mendell '93 that tied the score.
The next day MIT earned all it got. A trio of doubles by John Mueller '94, Toussaint and Scott Williams '91 led to senior Henry Dotterer's game-winning hit, capping another victorious three-run rally in their final time at bat.
Coach Fran O'Brien's troops didn't let up when they hosted Wentworth Institute the following Wednesday and won 6-3. Following a familiar pattern and falling behind early, 2-0 in the first, the Beavers came back behind a stellar eight innings from Mendell. The win gave MIT a
2-0 season sweep of Wentworth.
Gordon College topped MIT 4-3 last Friday, but the Beaver nine came back strong the following afternoon, sweeping WPI, 7-1, 6-2, to take all three games played against WPI this year.
The first game was an easy one for MIT thanks to some great work on the mound from Peter Hinteregger '93. WPI's lone run off Hinteregger (4-1) scored on a pop fly that managed to find the turf behind second.
Third baseman Ian Somerville '93 collected five hits on the day, including a pair of two-RBI singles in game two, enough for starter Eric Hopkins '92, having an excellent season, to glide to victory.
The low scores posted by op-
ponents last week are typical of this year's pitching staff. Most contests thus far have been one, two, or three-run affairs. Indeed Hopkins, Hinteregger, Mendell and Charlie Freeman '91 constitute a very solid starting group.
The Beavers are hoping to finish strong now with new life appearing in their bats. Certainly a winning season is within reach. (This is always a laudable goal for the Beaver baseball team, which takes on a number of very strong, big and often scholarship-laden programs.
A big step in this direction was taken when clean-up hitter Williams came back from early-April back problems. The senior co-captain has consistently provided needed power (.532 slugging percentage entering this week's play) and run production (15 RBI) for the Beaver's oft-anemic offense.
Another consistent producer has been centerfielder Toussaint, a defensive mainstay coming through at the plate as well with a team-leading .333 batting average. With six stolen bases and several infield hits, the senior provides sorely needed speed on the base paths.
Also doing the job both at the plate and in the field is second-baseman/leadoff hitter Mueller. The talented freshman (whose grandfather played major league
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baseball in the 1940s) has been in on a dozen or so double plays while posting a .290 average that includes six doubles.
Dan Sabanosh '94, another member of a very promising freshman class paying immediate dividends, and Somerville are carrying more than their share
of the offensive load from their spots on the left side of the infield. Both have been consistent run producers with some big hits between them.
Only three games remain after this weekend as the Beavers try to pass the .500 mark; it won't be easy. A home game next Tuesday versus University of Massachusetts-Boston is followed by away games at Division I Harvard and Northeastern, the latter of which is enjoying an outstanding year and may be on its way to the NCAA tournament in late May.
First, however, the Beavers hope to establish themselves as the inaugural champions of the CAC (a win yesterday over Babson would do it). The Constitution conference was put together this year with the aim of joining six schools with the desire of fielding high-quality baseball teams and placing a premium on academics.
The member colleges are: WPI, Norwich, Babson, Coast Guard Academy, Western New England College and MIT.