Baseball wins 4 out of 5

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

But by then, the Lions must have already been feeling positively sunny.

Losers of their first eight games, the Lions won four out of five over the weekend, including three wins against Great Northeast Athletic Conference teams.,Rain disrupted play again for the Emerson baseball team this weekend, this time forcing the postponement of a doubleheader against Suffolk University on Sunday.

But by then, the Lions must have already been feeling positively sunny.

Losers of their first eight games, the Lions won four out of five over the weekend, including three wins against Great Northeast Athletic Conference teams. Backed by a rejuvenated offense, strong pitching and a suddenly stingy defense, the Lions, at 4-4 in their conference, find themselves well within the playoff hunt.

Emerson played a pair of doubleheaders against Daniel Webster College and Albertus Magnus College, followed by one against Newbury College. The Lions split their games with Daniel Webster on Friday, but swept the rest of the weekend.

"I think we just started getting more amped to play," said freshman lead-off hitter, outfielder and closer Pete Karl. "Our whole attitude before the games changed. We really honed in on playing conference teams and once we realized we could make the playoffs, we just started to execute more and our pitching stepped up."

Karl, senior Glenn Hyatt and juniors Bryan Fennessey and Kent Anderson all made a positive impact on the team from the mound.

"We're playing much better and smarter on the defensive end, making the plays in front of us that have to be made," said junior catcher Zach Wintrow. "And we're getting better performances from our pitching staff. They get all the credit in the world for the streak we've been on. We've gotten four real quality starts in the last five games and some very good relief appearances. Without those guys, we don't win a single game."

Besides giving a strong starting performance against Albertus Magnus, Anderson has moved around on the field in order to benefit his teammates since he has had experience all over the field.

"We have a few guys who are better in the spots I used to play," Anderson said.

Freshman Jimmy Fuoco, Emerson's shortstop, has been doing well in his new position since Anderson moved to allow him to step up. Coach David Hanley said that Fuoco made a few critical plays in the field that ensured the wins against Albertus Magnus.

But according to Wintrow, it's not going to be smooth sailing into the playoffs.

"It's going to be a real tough weekend," Wintrow said. "We've got the top three teams in the conference for six games in three days and they are all real quality teams. Western New England College has an excellent pitching staff and some quality hitters. Johnson and Wales and Suffolk beat teams into the ground."

The Lions are playing doubleheaders against all of these teams, three days in a row.

"We're going to have to get some real quality starts to beat these teams," Wintrow said. "But the way the guys on our staff have been throwing the ball lately, I'm excited about this weekend."

Hanley said he knows what his team has done to collect the wins but is wary of what will come up this weekend.

"We can't afford to make any mistakesp; we've cut the mistakes out," Hanley said. "If we don't make mistakes we can beat anybody. A mistake for us is devastating."

The Lions have been hitting and pitching indoors to get ready for their games, which hasn't been easy on the team.

"Baseball's meant to be played outside, and we're kind of stuck inside of a small gym," Karl said. "We have the area to do something, but you don't get to see live pitching, you don't have a mound. Our outfielders can't see real fly balls."

Hanley is optimistic about his team's performance and is proud of the way they have played thus far.

As for the winning streak, the Lions' coach said he knows how hard his players have been working throughout the season, and is glad it is paying off.

"We didn't play poorly and all of a sudden we're playing better," Hanley said. "We've played pretty consistently."