March 15, 2012

BASEBALL | Red to Continue Strong Start

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With the uncharacteristically nice weather to support it, the baseball team has gotten off to a hot start. Already eight games into the season, the Red has only lost once and heads into spring break with some much-needed confidence.

“We’re very confident right now,” said junior infielder Brenton Peters. “[Our success] has been the result of the hard work we have put in, getting back from winter break and getting right on the field.”

The Red (7-1) will travel to Delaware this weekend to start its spring break trip, and will finish the week with six games in Virginia. Although in past years the team has traveled down south to Florida or North Carolina, it is staying closer to home this break.

“I’m pretty excited because I’m from Virginia,” Peters said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be a detriment not to play down south or on the West Coast where the weather is warmer.”

The Red’s first stop will be a three-game series with Delaware State (10-6-1). In their most recent game, the Hornets played four hours and nine minutes of baseball ended in a tie due to darkness. Delaware State’S Lineup includes junior 1B/P Ryan Haas, who was named the MEAC’s Baseball Player-of-the-Week.

“We’ve just got to stay as aggressive as we have been doing,” Peters said.

The Red’s aggressiveness at the plate has paid off so far, with seven starters batting over .300. Senior outfielder Brian Billigen is hitting .472 and leading the team with 15 RBI’s.

After the series with the Hornets, the Red will head to Blacksburg, Va. to face off against Virginia Tech. The Hokies (13-4) play in a tough ACC division that features reigning conference champions Virginia and perennial powerhouses like Georgia Tech and Florida State. The Hokies have already proven their ability to contend for an ACC title by defeating No. 27 Virginia in extra innings, 10-8.

“We have got to take it pitch by pitch, not get too overwhelmed by the names of teams and just play baseball,” Peters said.

On the last leg of its trip, the Red will head to Farmville, Va. for four straight games against Longwood. Like the Hokies, the  Lancers (11-6) also have some strength in their pitching staff. Co-aces Matt Gwaltney and Brandon Vick 2.41 and 3.42 ERA’s respectively.

According to Peters, the Red has gotten some quality starts out of its own pitchers. Freshman Brent Jones leads the team with two wins and a 1.5 ERA. Senior right hander Rick Marks is not far behind him with a 1.64 ERA.

“We’ve had a lot of fresh arms this year,” Peters said. “Our wins have been a combination of our defense and pitchers coming together.”

Additionally, Peters noted that the team’s red-hot offense as of late takes some burden off the pitchers.

“Our pitchers are going out with the confidence that they can keep us in games,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about making the perfect pitch all the time because we can back them up with our offense.”

Original Author: Scott Chiusano