Sports / The Prairie Fire / April 12, 2017

Baseball carries spring break momentum

Junior Tom Janczur moves to release a pitch towards home plate during a spring break game. Janczur and the rest of the pitching staff have started the season strong, as they have improved the team’s ERA by almost half. (Photo courtesy of Katy Coseglia)

Following their doubleheader victories to start the season, the Knox Baseball team went 2-4 in Florida during their spring break trip, competing against very strong competition.

Senior pitcher Alec Jordan is proud of the team’s performance, saying Knox had the potential to win every game and that the tournament was a great experience.

“Seeing some of the young guys come out and do really well, especially some of the younger pitchers, they really came out and it’s just taking the pieces and coming together, we gotta keep doing that,” Jordan said.

Junior pitcher Tom Janczur also had a positive takeaway from the trip, explaining, “I was really excited after seeing what we did in Florida and just knowing from the previous years how things were and how we started off and how much further along we were this year. It definitely felt like people stepped up and took care of themselves and what they needed to do and everyone came together a lot better.”

Following a loss against Greenville College, the team “decided we wouldn’t let it happen again,” Jordan said.

“If we’re gonna be beat, we’re gonna be beat because we did it to ourselves, not because we truly got beat,” Jordan said, noting the mentality changed after that game.

The team turned around and outplayed their last two opponents, winning 5-3 and 10-2.

The main issue the team has been focusing on is playing hard the entire game.

“I think the way that we need to approach it as understanding that just because it’s the eighth or ninth inning, we have to stay composed and understand that it’s still baseball. The game hasn’t changed. Nobody throws harder or runs faster or plays differently because it’s the eighth or the ninth inning,” McCaffrey said.

Janczur thinks that as the young players continue to grow, the team will keep improving in all facets of the game.

“You get to those innings and you start to feel the butterflies and [the young players] just haven’t gotten in the groove of just relaxing and treating it like it’s your everyday regular game. Just go in and do what you can do, don’t do too much, make the routine plays, routine pitches. I think people will start to settle down a little bit and I don’t see that being an issue in the future,” Janczur said.

Senior Ryan Weitendorf makes contact with a pitch against Central College during a spring break game. Weitendorf drew a walk and scored a run during the 9-5 loss. (Photo courtesy of Katy Coseglia)

Jordan said that the team’s mentality has really helped the players stay composed.

“If something happens in the field, it happens, that’s the mentality. It happens, let go of it and get the next ball, hit the next ball, throw the next pitch and just take it one pitch at a time, that’s all you can really do. And the mentality has really helped,” Jordan said.

Cornell College was picked by many coaches to win conference this year, and Knox played four games against them, winning two and losing two. The team was excited by these wins, agreeing they could have won at least three of the games, if not all four.

“I think that a lot of teams in the conference aren’t really ready for what we have to offer this year, I think they take us kind of lightly. They won’t expect us to come out and compete at a really high level and going up against Cornell and being able to split with them will show a lot of people that we’re not a team to mess around with, we’re here to compete and get some wins,” Janczur said.

McCaffrey is looking forward to the games the team will play in Wisconsin this year, which will count toward their overall record, different from previous years.

“It used to be the crossover games when you played teams in the North, it didn’t count for your conference record but now it’s all cumulative so those count and it will be fun to go up there,” McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey also mentioned that the fan support at home games has been huge and has been amazing to see, helping the team push themselves during big games.

The Knox College Baseball team is 8-7 after their 12-10 loss against MacMurray this past Sunday and their 14-3 victory over Eureka College on Wednesday. The team will look to carry the momentum from their big win over Eureka into their conference matches against Grinnell College.

Emily Mosher, Sports Editor

Tags:  alec jordan knox baseball matt mccaffrey prairie fire baseball ryan weitendorf tom janczur

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