BB: Colonels nearly undefeated during spring training trip

The baseball team came close to a nine-game sweep during their spring training trip to Fort Pierce, Fla. In nine games against six different opponents, the Colonels went 8-1 to improve their season record to 10-1.

The Colonels began their trip on March 5 against Maritime College. This game began a recurring theme of lopsided victories for Wilkes as they defeated the Privateers 14-3.

“I thought our pitchers worked ahead in the count for the most part and pitched to contact.” said head coach Kevin Gryboski. “Our hitters were aggressive early on in the count and hunted the fastball.”

First-year Chase Vrabel contributed to the offensive onslaught going 4-for-5 with two doubles, one RBI and three runs scored. Senior JT Hibschman earned the victory, tossing six shutout innings with six strikeouts while only allowing two hits.

“Our game plan was and is to throw strikes and let the defense get outs,” said Hibschman. “If we limit walks and free bases, good things happen.”

On the second day of the trip, the Colonels swept Norwich University in a doubleheader winning by scores of 7-4 and 13-0.

Senior Tony Molitoris earned the victory in the first game with five and two-thirds innings allowing just one run and striking out three. First-year Aiden Murphy shined brightly in the second game, throwing a complete-game shutout with 15 strikeouts to earn his first collegiate victory. Graduate student Nick Pronti was the offensive standout in the doubleheader, going 4-for-5 with three doubles, five RBI and two runs scored.

“I see a huge difference in this team than any other team I’ve ever been a part of here at Wilkes,” said senior Mike Patrizio. “The right group of guys returned and the new guys coach brought in all get together and love playing and being around each other.”

The fourth game of the trip resulted in a dramatic 11-5 victory against Drew University, with the Colonels scoring all 11 runs in the top of the ninth inning. First-year Mike Show had the game- winning hit with a two-run single, putting the Colonels on top 6-5 giving them the lead for good. Patrizio went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, one RBI and one stolen base in the contest.

The Colonels faced Gettysburg College in the fifth game of the trip, defeating the Bullets 13-2. Graduate student Brandon Reno went two-for-four with three RBI, one walk and one home run, marking the Colonels’ first long-ball of the year.

On the fifth day of the trip, Wilkes faced the Marywood Pacers in their second and final doubleheader of the week.

In the first game, the Colonels won 4-3 thanks to another solid outing from Hibschman as he gave up just one run in five innings earning the victory. In the second game, the Colonels’ eight-game win streak was snapped as the Pacers won 11-5.

In their eighth game of the trip and their second against Drew, the Colonels won yet again with a score of 5-1.

Murphy earned his second victory of the trip with another stellar outing, throwing six innings while only allowing one run and striking out 10 batters. As the designated hitter, first-year Zack Luksic went 1-for-4 with his first collegiate home run.

In the final game of the trip, Wilkes defeated Messiah College 14-4. Junior Darren Kerdesky contributed heavily to the offensive outburst, going 2-for-4 with 3 runs scored, four RBI and his first home run of the season.

“The players need to come to practice every day and be ready to work,” said Gryboski. “The season is a grind and we have a tough schedule ahead of us.”

The Beacon/Ariel Reed Senior Darren Kerdesky gets mobbed by his teammates at home plate after a game-tying home run against Misericordia on March 18.