Baseball leaves Florida disappointed after a 2-4 start
Misfortune plagued the beginning of the Pioneer baseball season, leading to a disappointing start.
Despite feeling confident prior to the season, Carroll was unable to meet their desired 6-2 record in Ft. Myers, Fla. Instead, they suffered two injuries to crucial team players.
The Pioneers currently hold a 2-6 record, after having their games in Fulton, Mo. canceled.
The season began Mar. 6 at the Gene Cusic Classic where Carroll took on the Elms College Blazers. The Pios took the lead in the second inning, and never gave it up, ending with a 9-5 win.
Jason Pattengale earned the win, allowing four earned runs on five hits in his five innings of work. He also struck out five batters.
Offensively, the team was led by center fielder Luke Melms’ three hits, including a two RBI triple in the second. He would finish with three RBIs. Catcher Tyler Fitzsimmons also had three RBIs on two hits and a run scored.
A Mar. 7 game against North Park University brought Carroll their first loss of the season, falling 6-2.
Starter Cale Ross surrendered five runs on ten hits, despite striking out eight batters.
Third baseman Drew Volkmann led the Pioneer offense with two hits. His second hit of the game was an RBI double, driving in George Simons for Carroll’s first run of the game. Volkmann would score two at-bats later on a sacrifice fly from Fitzsimmons.
The second game of the day, against Southern Vermont College, was the start of a losing streak for Carroll. They dropped 16-15 for their second loss of the season. Carroll outhit Southern Vermont 18 to 14.
The Pioneers took on the Olivet College Comets Mar. 8. After falling behind 7-2, they would suffer a devastating blow to their line-up in the seventh inning that would overshadow the 8-5 loss.
Volkmann was hit by a pitch, causing an injury that would require him to leave the game. He hasn’t appeared in a game since being hit, but he expects to return for the home opener April 2.
Prior to the incident, Volkmann held a .588 average, gathering 10 hits, five of which went for extra bases. He is currently third on the team with 5 RBIs.
“Hopefully I can get back to that,” Volkmann said. “I think I’ll be fine after the first game.”
A 6-4 loss against Illinois College extended Carroll’s losing streak to four. Ryne Plager started the game, but would get the loss after six and a third innings of work where he gave up six runs on nine hits.
Carroll’s offense provided an early three run lead in the bottom of the first, but Illinois College chipped away and overtook the Pioneers 6-3, resulting in Plager’s exit. His replacement, Justin Ahrens, would finish out the inning and pass the ball to Steve Belknap who would not allow any runs in the final two innings. Unfortunately, the Pioneers were unable to catch up.
The Pioneers wrapped up their spring trip with a game against the University of Dubuque. The 9-0 shutout, ending Carroll’s losing streak, was the result of 12 hits, two hit by pitches, three walks and four Dubuque errors. Fitzsimmons led the offense with three hits and two RBIs.
The team had three games scheduled in Missouri against Westminster College, but the games were canceled due to bad weather. With the cancellations, the Pioneers had sixteen days of rest before their Mar. 27 doubleheader against North Central College.
The Pioneers would go the entire day without scoring a run, losing 8-0 and then 5-0. Both starters, Ross and Plager respectively, would pitch just four innings.
In the first game of the two seven inning games, Ross allowed six runs, five of which were earned. Buhrow and Tim Holan would each pitch one inning where both gave up another run.
Offensively, Carroll was held to just three hits.
Plager allowed four runs on six hits in the second game before being relieved by Belknap, who would pitch the final two innings, collecting three strikeouts, while allowing an unearned run and two hits.
Carroll was able to muster five hits, including two extra base hits: a triple by Matt Francois and a double by Jordan Stephans.
Pattengale, the only pitcher on the staff with a win, suffered an injury to his ankle. His return this season is questionable. Even with Pattengale gone, Volkmann doesn’t feel the season is over.
“We have a young staff,” he said, “We’ll be fine later on.”
The Pioneers currently have a team batting average of .289, 42 points lower than their opponents’ batting average. They have a team ERA of 6.86, compared to an opposing 4.34.
A preseason poll by Midwest Conference coaches lists Carroll as the fifth place team in the North Division. Carroll has not played against anyone in their division yet.
The Pioneers return to action Mar. 31 at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Two days later, they will participate in a home opening doubleheader against University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Following an Apr. 6 doubleheader against Marian University, Carroll will begin division play against Lawrence University, first at home, and then at Lawrence on Apr. 10 and 11 respectively.