By Nicole Marcotte
“I keep telling myself that we’re off to a slow start but it’s getting to that point where it’s not really a start anymore,” said St. Michael’s College senior Tony Bonvechio. With only four wins halfway through the season, the baseball team (4-19-1) is looking to put it all together in order to add some wins to its record.
Getting back on track
With an experienced senior class, the team started off the season in March with high expectations, head coach Paul Morgan said.
For team captain Matt Beaulieu, this has been the most difficult season out of his four years with the Purple Knights.
“The schedule we are playing is against some of the top teams in the northeast and we have been in almost every game,” he said.
During the Palm Beach Challenge in Florida, the team was up against some strong Division-II teams, including Franklin Pierce University, University of New Haven and Southern New Hampshire University, all of which are in current standings to be a part of the Northeast 10 Conference, a Division-II conference that honors the top institutions in the northeast.
In Florida, Beaulieu stood out as a strong and solid performer in the eyes of coach Morgan, both defensively in center field and offensively.
The team lost all nine games it played.
“Some of the games have been complete blowouts,” Bonvechio said. On March 15, the Purple Knights suffered a no-hit game against Franklin Pierce, losing 11-0. Three days later, St. Michael’s took another hard blow when they lost 17-0 against Nova Southeastern University.
With losses like this, it puts into question what exactly is holding the team back from reaching success.
“We haven’t swung the bat really well,” coach Morgan said. “When we do hit, our pitching isn’t always there. When our pitching is on, our fielding isn’t always there.”
Some players stress that their offense needs to improve in order to start winning some games.
“We need more clutch hits,” Bonvechio said, who is batting .246 and has a total of 11 RBI’s so far.
Quality at-bats has been the team’s biggest struggle according to Bonvechio.
“If a guy leads off with a double, we haven’t been able to move him around,” Bonvechio said.
Beaulieu, who is batting .306 with 13 RBI’s, also emphasizes a need for strength at the plate.
“We have been struggling at the plate this year, but with every game, the team has been improving with quality at-bats and more hits,” he said.
Despite the veteran seniors, the team consists of 11 sophomores and seven first-years, making the team very young. As a result of this, a lot of younger players have been in game lineups without having much experience yet, Bonvechio said.
Sophomore Chad Estey has started all of the 24 games played so far and is batting .216 and had 15 RBI’s so far.
“I have worked a lot at first base as well as catching but we have a solid senior catcher that works well with our pitching staff,” Estey said.
No matter the root of the team’s losses, the players believe it’s all a matter of piecing their skills together.
“The team just needs to come together as one,” Estey said.
Perhaps this oneness has been put into play, as things are starting to look up for the team. On April 15, the Purple Knights defeated Lyndon State College, 4-3, in a 16-inning battle. The game was believed to be the longest game in the programs 97-year history. Junior Pete Estes brought in the game winning double and junior Ben Yodizo supplied a triple and two singles. Estey and senior Tim Pilczak were able to collect three hits while Beaulieu was able to solidify the win as he pitched three scoreless innings for the Purple Knights.
Win or lose, the spirits of the baseball team are still high.
“It’s easy to fold when we get down like this,” Morgan said.
But despite the losses, the players have yet to get down because of their love for the game, Morgan said.
With talent and a good attitude, Morgan is confident that the team will be able to find success in the games to come.
“I don’t want to lose the rest of the games, but if we do, so be it,” he said. “If we go out and compete and play hard, the results will take care of themselves.”