Baseball suffers blowout defeat going into key NCAC stretch

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Current Major League stars like Andrew McCutchen and Josè Bautista have graced Indianapolis’ Victory Field with their presence. On Wednesday night, the Tigers had the chance to play in the shadows of these professionals when they visited Anderson University at stadium used by the Pittsburgh Pirate’s Triple-A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians.

“It was really cool,” sophomore Andrew Quinn said. “Getting to play on a field where professional players play everyday was definitely memorable. Plus the downtown Indy atmosphere was really awesome.”

Pitching on the same mound that players like Matt Capps and Ben Sheets had toed up, Anderson’s Cameron Dotson shut down the DePauw University hitters en route to a 13-1 blowout.

Dotson put up eight strong innings for the Ravens, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out three.

“He was throwing a lot of first pitch strikes and hitting his spots on the outer half of the plate,” sophomore Mike Hammel said about Dotson’s night.

The Ravens jumped out early, hanging up a two spot in the bottom of the first on a balk and a single. The big blow to the Tigers’ hopes came in the bottom of the fourth, when Anderson recorded three run-scoring singles to open the score up to 6-1.

Just to add on, the Ravens tallied five more runs in the bottom of the fifth, while totalling five base hits in the inning.

The only run for the Tigers came in the top of the fourth when Hammel belted his second homerun of the season to leftfield.

“It was really exciting,” Hammel said. “I have played at Victory Field many times in my career and I will remember hitting that home run.”

In addition to Hammel, sophomore Ryan Grippo collected two hits for the Tigers and reached base three times.

While Dotson kept hitters off balance and off the scoreboard, DePauw manager Jake Martin made a well worn path to the pitchers mound, making a move to the bullpen on four separate occasions.

Quinn started the game, but was chased after only two and a third innings after giving up three runs on six hits. Senior Eric Steele was next, surrendering three runs on three hits and two walks all while recording only four outs. Following Steele came first-year Tyler Holt who was shelled for four runs on six hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Senior Nick McCreary followed but also only lasted two outs while giving up two more runs. Finally in came sophomore Nick Horvath who limped the Tigers through the final three innings allowing only one more run.

Jonathan Eilbracht went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs for the Ravens, while Cole Heberling and Zack Hufferd also combined for six runs batted in.

All in all, the Ravens crossed the plate 13 times on 23 hits while only being struck out five times. Quinn got stuck with the loss, moving his record to 0-3 on the season.

“As a pitching staff, I think we got behind in the count too much which led to Anderson being able to swing freely,” Horvath said. “Anderson is a pretty good offensive team and they were able to square us up all day. Their entire team is patient at the plate and waits for the pitch they want to hit.”

The loss snapped DePauw’s season-long two game winning streak and dropped the Tigers’ record to 5-11. However, things could turn around for the slumping Tigers, as the defending North Coast Athletic Conference champions get set to dive head first into conference play.

It was the conference portion of the schedule that saved the Tigers a year ago. After a pair of extended losing streaks early in the season, DePauw moved into NCAC play a year ago with a record of 4-7. By season’s end, the Tigers had righted themselves and had advanced all the way to the NCAA regionals where they finished third.

After sweeping a Sunday double-header on the road at Wittenberg University last weekend, the Tigers will dive head first into conference play with their next 10 games coming against very familiar opponents.

“I think our focus against Wittenberg was where it needed to be for the most part,” Quinn said. “As long as we understand that we can compete with anyone we play, we give ourselves a great chance to beat anybody.”

It all starts this weekend when the Tigers host Denison University in a four game set at Walker Field. After another two game stop at Wittenberg, the Tigers will then come home and host Ohio Wesleyan University in a four game series.

“I know the guys will step up for conference play, it’s the most important part of our regular season,” Quinn said. “I’m excited to see us compete this weekend.”

The series opener against the Big Red will get underway at noon on Saturday and will be DePauw’s first game of the year at Walker Field.

Said Hammel: “If we compete and fight for one another on the field, we will be happy with the results in the end.”