The Hornets baseball team, who were ranked third in the pre-season, didn’t look anywhere close to their MIAA rival, the Missouri Western Griffons, as they dropped all three games – 8-5, 7-6 and 12-2 – Feb. 16.
“We are thinking the game instead of playing the game,” said Bob Fornelli, head coach. “We need someone to step up and make a play – until that happens, we are going to struggle.”
Most players also wore long sleeves to fight the February chill, but some admitted that it wasn’t an issue in their doubleheader.
“I have played in it all my life, and we have been practicing in it since we got back from break, so I don’t think weather was a factor at all,” said Todd Schultz, junior catcher and business administration major.
In the first game, the Griffons jumped out early on the Hornets with three quick runs scored on Dakota McKaskle, starting pitcher. The Hornets hung on and cut the gap to one when Aaron Rea tripled to bring two in and was let in himself on an error.
But the Griffons put up a couple of solo shots over the fence to end the first of the doubleheader with an 8-5 win.
In the second game, Garrett Bane, junior pitcher, got the start on the mound and brought everything he had against the Griffons’ heavy bat attack. He pitched six innings, had five strikeouts and even had three shutout innings in the first, fifth and sixth innings.
“I kept my composure, and threw strikes, got guys out, just things didn’t seem to go our way,” Bane, a recreation major, said.
Things looked to be going the Hornets’ way in the bottom of the seventh. Schultz hit a three RBI triple on a play that looked like the ball was going to be a foul, but then the wind carried it in to give the Hornets a 6-3 lead.
“The ump told me it was a 10 feet foul when it was up in the air,” Schultz said. “I guess that’s just my luck today, and, hopefully, some of that keeps with us.”
The Hornets were not so lucky as the Griffons scored four runs off of four hits in the top of the eighth and secured a tightly contested 7-6 win.
The third game of the series took place Feb. 17, when Shawn Talkington, sophomore pitcher, got the start on the mound for the Hornets.
From the start of the game, it seemed like a defensive battle, as neither team scored in the first three innings. In the top of the fifth with two outs, Talkington gave up a two-run bomber, as the Griffons took control with a 6-0 lead.
“I just lost control of my changeup and from then I couldn’t find the strike zone,” Talkington, a biology major, said.
The Hornets take on Lincoln University of Missouri at 1 p.m. Saturday in Jefferson City, Mo., weather permitting.