SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College baseball team is five days removed from a stretch of 13 games in ten days, which dates back to before Spring Break. The Pride posted a 7-6 record during that span, and faced multiple ranked opponents in No. 6 Southern Maine and No. 7 Rowan.
Springfield traveled to Florida over Spring Break, where it went 3-5, then swept Emerson in a doubleheader to initiate NEWMAC conference play on March 24. Brian Johnson threw his second career no-hitter in game one, and became the only pitcher in Division-III program history to throw multiple no-hitters in his career.
In its home opener the next day, Springfield defeated Brandeis as Dakota Aldrich pitched eight shutout innings to pick up his first win of the season. After suffering a 9-2 setback against Wheaton on Tuesday, the Pride responded with a win over Dean the following evening to cap the longest stretch of games it will face this season.
Not many professional players can say they experience a similar stretch, but head coach Mark Simeone was mostly satisfied to how his team adjusted to such a condensed schedule.
“I think it’s been good for us,” he said after Wednesday’s game against Dean. “As much for the fact that I think when you play 13 games in ten days you realize how much you need each other and you realize how much you rely on each other and i think that’s probably the biggest thing I hope our players take out of it.”
Springfield has shown its depth with several different types of lineup constructions and the amount of pitchers that have toed the rubber thus far. In 147 innings, 17 pitchers have logged outings. The batting order is continually shifted to fit the desirable matchups for the game at hand.
“Right now it’s a dog battle,” right fielder Eddie Martinez said last Wednesday. “We all know it so whoever is working the hardest and whoever deserves it that day gets it.”
Jake Gleason slugged Archie Allen Field’s first ever collegiate home run against Dean. It was a two-run shot, and the eventual deciding run in a 3-2 victory. The ball soared over the raised fence in right field — a no-doubter. Gleason completed the moment with a bat flip and touched ’em all for the first time this season.
“When I come back in the future, it’ll bring back some memories for me,” he said on Wednesday. “Freshman year, my first hit was a home run so now I can say my junior year I was the first one to hit it (at Archie Allen).”
The junior slugger began his season 0-for-13. He notched his first hit of the season against Brandeis a week ago. Since then, he’s registered a hit in five of his past six games — going 10-for-18 (.555). His slash line now reads .323/.447/.516 with five walks drawn and three doubles.
“One of the things we talk about is having a firm base,” Simeone said on Wednesday. “When he’s struggling, he’s a little bit like ice skates in the batter’s box; leaving the batter’s box before he finishes a swing. When he gets his feet underneath him, he’s a good hitter. He’s taken those swings the last couple games.”
Superstitious by nature, Gleason recently made the switch to a new bat and credits that to his success.
“It wasn’t me it was the bat,” he said, crediting Yogi Berra. “I switched bats and I’m doing decent.”
Aside from Gleason, Springfield has showcased historic power through its first four home games at Archie Allen. In a doubleheader against MIT last Saturday, Mark Joao slugged an opposite field solo shot in the first game before Alex Denoyelle clubbed a two-run shot in game two out near the scoreboard in left center field.
On Sunday against Westfield State, the senior catcher picked up where he left off and belted a grand slam to put Springfield ahead 7-0 in the first inning in an eventual 8-2 victory. Four home runs in as many games marks the longest streak for the Pride in the last decade.
The team has seven home runs in its first 16 games and is well on their way to surpassing last season’s total of 11 in 39 games.
Conference play ramps up in the month of April, as the Pride have a chance at redemption versus Wheaton on Tuesday before facing Coast Guard for a three-game set towards the end of the week. Springfield (8-7, 3-2 NEWMAC) currently sits fourth place. Babson and Wheaton are tied for first, each posting 5-0 conference records.
“We haven’t played perfect baseball by any means but we’ve had stretches where we look like we can be really good,” Simeone said.
Springfield is through the brunt of its schedule. No stretch this season will compare to condensing three weeks worth of action into half the time.
Photo courtesy Sam Leventhal