For a team that was supposed to be weakened by its lack of experience and offense, the Spider baseball team defied all preseason expectations in its opening series against Bucknell University.
In the first game of the season, the rookies showed their merit in beating the Bucknell Bison 10-4, with solid performances from freshmen Tanner Stanley, Jansen Fraser and Aaron Newman and redshirt freshman Jon de Marte.
Stanley and Newman both went 1-for-4, but their hits were their first collegiate home runs, accounting for three of the Spiders' 10 runs of the day. Fraser went 2-for-4 with two singles and an RBI.
With a proud smile on his face, Coach Mark McQueen expressed how pleased he was with his team's offensive and defensive performance in the first game of the season.
"We talked the other day about the offense and there being a little question mark there, so it was good to see them come through," McQueen said. "We had two home runs, and they were both freshmen. So maybe we have a little more power than I thought we did.
"Our pitching was also outstanding, just like I was hoping. Jon pitched great in his first college start, and everyone did exactly what I was hoping."
De Marte faced 20 batters in five innings in his college debut and allowed only four hits and two earned runs with eight strikeouts. He hit over 90 mph on the radar gun.
After being unable to pitch in a game for 18 months after his elbow surgery, de Marte was relieved to be able to record the first win of the season, he said, despite a slightly shaky first inning when he had allowed one run.
"I knew I couldn't come out and have another inning like the first," de Marte said. "I needed to stay confident and battle on in the second because you never know if the offense will come through or not."
Though it was slow getting started, the offense did come through with run support for de Marte. The Spiders did most of the damage in an explosive fifth inning, when they scored five runs with five hits. The players kept rolling from there, plating one run in the sixth, two in the seventh and two in the eighth, culminating in a 10-run, 15-hit victory.
Though the strong contributions from the freshmen were the most surprising plays of the game, the veterans were not without their shining moments. Redshirt senior Matt Zink went 4-for-5, and his only out was a close call by the umpire on a triple.
Senior Jacob Mayers and redshirt senior Brett Williams each went 2-for-5, and Williams drove in two runs and scored one himself.
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Across the board, all but one starter got a hit, and all nine of them reached base at least once.
The team completed the sweep of the series with a 6-3 win over the Bison on Saturday, and a 6-1 victory on Sunday behind stellar pitching performances from starters sophomore Zak Sterling and junior Andrew Blum and relievers sophomore Ryan Cook and redshirt sophomore Dylan Stoops.
The Spiders will take Pitt Field again on Wednesday to face VMI, with the first pitch scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Contact staff writer Erin Flynn at email@example.com
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