To call the opening half of the Ursinus baseball team’s sea- son a rollercoaster ride would be a bit of an understatement. The Bears’ first stanza has been complete with late-game meltdowns, record-breaking performances and late-inning victories. Wrap that into 22 baseball games and you have all the drama expected in a full season in only half the time.
However, this past week of Ursinus baseball was likely the most important week of the season for the Bears. With four games against two perennial powers, Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore, Ursinus knew this week was going to be a big test.
“We knew the importance of last week, it was going to be a great measuring stick for how good this team really was,” said senior pitcher David Drea.
The Bears were up for the test from the start, giving #6 Swarthmore all they could handle on Thomas Field before fall- ing 7-6.
The Bears made sure not to turn it into a losing streak on Saturday, April 6, when the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays made a visit to Collegeville.
Junior Dom Fiorentino described the team’s attitude heading into the doubleheader as “confident” and the Swarthmore battle “[showed] us how good we can be when we play within our system.”
The Bears started out by posting an 11-8 victory over the visiting Blue Jays behind Ursinus’ strongest asset, their bats. Jon Moldoff, Carter Usowski, and Mike Stanziale led the way with 2 RBIs each.
On the mound, Will Peiffer started but Matt Schmitz picked up the win after slamming the door with two scoreless innings to end the game.
The bats stayed hot in the second part of the doubleheader as Ursinus cruised to a 15-9 victory over Hopkins. Moldoff, Stanziale, and Usowski were all great in the late afternoon tilt as well and got production from Alex Mumme and Will Peiffer.
The Bears took full advantage of a rare undisciplined Hopkins side, which committed six errors in the second game.
Ursinus got a solid outing from sophomore Nick DeFeo who went five innings while giving up four runs.
This was the first time ever Ursinus has swept the Blue Jays as a Centennial Conference member.
Drea described the feeling as “pure elation.”
Stanziale said, “the whole team was amped up…there is no better feeling then sweeping a conference team.”
The Bears are hoping to carry the momentum from the historic sweep throughout the rest of their season in the always challenging Centennial Conference.
“It just allowed [us] to see how much our talent shines when we stick to who we are,” Usowski said.
Fiorentino echoed Usowski’s statements, “If we play within ourselves and as a whole, we can beat anyone.”
The Bears currently sit in eighth place in the conference after falling to Haverford on Friday and splitting a twin bill with Gettysburg Saturday, but they still have an opportunity to sneak into the back end of the postseason with several matchups against CC opponents left to go.
“We know how big the wins over Hopkins were, but we have a lot of work left to do to get to where we want to be,” senior pitcher Mark LeDuc said.
That place is the Centennial Conference championship, a place that the upperclassmen on the 2019 Bears have experienced. They were there in 2017 as underclassmen when they lost in heartbreaking walk-off fashion to Hopkins in the conference final. With success against the CC giant, there is no limit to the heights that this team can reach.