In the most inconsistent conference series of the year, the DePauw Tigers went 2-2 against last year’s North Coast Athletic Conference regular season champion Ohio Wesleyan University, resulting in the first two conference losses of the season.
The DePauw men’s baseball team is currently ranked 11th in the country and will be vying for a spot in the top 10 national rankings on Tuesday.
After the two losses, though, a top ten ranking is unlikely in this week’s polls, giving the Tigers extra motivation for this weekend’s much anticipated series against the Wabash College Little Giants.
Despite the weekend losses, DePauw’s squad can learn about some of their unrevealed weaknesses up to this point for upcoming games.
In the second game of the Saturday doubleheader Ohio Wesleyan freshman Charles Cooper tossed a strong game against the Tigers.
Cooper’s ability to work ahead of Tiger batters, along with a deceptively quick fastball, posed problems for Tiger hitters. Cooper threw for seven innings allowing only two hits and no runs in a 2-1 Ohio Wesleyan victory.
“That guy was throwing some good stuff all day,” senior captain Sam Swafford said. “We just couldn’t make good enough contact against him.”
But a strong suit for DePauw is their ability to rebound from such losses and learn from poor hitting performances. Such was displayed in the last game of the series, a 21-9 DePauw victory, displaying the power and ability of DePauw to score runs in bunches.
“That second game was a great way to rebound,” senior infielder Rob McPike explained. “I don’t think they had as much depth after their first pitcher and we all were able to capitalize. It was great to see everyone respond so well.”
Leadoff hitter sophomore Pat Lyons exploded for four hits and four RBI, while McPike continued his hot streak going two for six for three RBI. The 21 run performance was the second time DePauw has scored over 20 runs this season, the other being a Feb. 26 victory, 22-9, against Washington University in St. Louis.
In the pitching category, DePauw allowed nine runs in two separate games against the Bishops, but still came out with two games in which they only allowed three runs combined, exemplifying DePauw’s valued senior leadership on the mound. In an opening 9-2 win, senior Elliot Ross tossed seven innings allowing only two earned runs, while striking out five batters.
“Pitching was kind of up and down all weekend,” senior captain and pitcher Andy Manson said. “Giving nine runs in three different games was not good, but we showed flashes of what our staff is capable of all weekend.”
Standing at an impressive 25-5 overall and 10-2 in conference, the Tigers have one remaining four game series left in conference. With extra motivation the Tigers take a 135-129-2 all-time series lead to play against Wabash.
“(Wabash) is a team that was picked to win the NCAC and we feel we can handle,” Swafford said. “Rivalry aside, this is a conference game and we’re looking to better ourselves every outing.”
With the Little Giants sitting two games behind DePauw for a tie for the NCAC West Division lead, this weekend’s series against rival Wabash will be a true testament to DePauw’s ability to be the dominant force in the NCAC.