Wooster baseball sustains success during 2021 season

Thomas Pitney

Contributing Writer

 

The College of Wooster baseball team continued its winning ways by sweeping Hiram College in a double-header on Sunday, April 25. With winning scores of 13-11 in the first game and 9-3 in the second game, the team extended its winning streak to nine games and its record to 17-5. 

In the first game, the Fighting Scots rallied for five runs in the second inning, ignited by Dane Camphausen’s ’23 leadoff double, Alex Gasper’s ’22 two-run single and Tyler Chumita’s ’22 one-run double. The Terriers promptly scored 11 phenomenally unanswered runs in the third and fourth innings to take an 11-5 lead. Though Wooster trailed by six runs, there was no panic in the dugout. As junior center fielder Ben Gbur ’22 put it, “We’ve been down plenty of times. We were playing at Denison [and] we were down a decent amount of runs [and] came back. We’ve come back pretty often this year, so it’s nothing new.” 

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Fighting Scots scored four runs to cut the lead to 11-9, led by Gbur’s one-run double and a triple by Dominic Stilliana ’22. In the sixth inning, Ben Hines ’22 drove in Chumita with a single to cut the lead to one run, and then scored on a Camphausen groundout to tie the game 11-11. With two outs in the sixth and the game tied, Stilliana stepped into the batter’s box. “I was just trying to stay short and just focus on the ball and drive something to do some damage with it. I was kinda just looking for one pitch in one spot and I got it,” Stilliana said about his approach at the plate. 

Capitalizing on the opportunity, Stilliana jacked a two-run home run to give the Scots a 13-11 lead, which they did not relinquish. Also crucial to the comeback were pitchers Eli Westrick ’24 and Corey Knauf ’24 combining to hold the Terriers scoreless over the final three innings. Chumita, the junior captain and shortstop, was proud of the effort. “It just shows that we’re not gonna give up,” he said. “One through nine and batting in the dugout. [The] pitching staff, they’ll always get it done, and when we come together we can be a really special team.”

The Scots followed up on the thriller with another terrific team effort in the second game. Starting pitcher Jay DiBacco ’21 allowed just two hits and shut out the Terriers over the first four innings. “The pitching has been great this year, obviously,” Stilliana said. “We need those guys to keep us within games and as a hitting staff, it helps us out a lot [to] play more loose[ly] because we don’t have to score as many runs.” Wooster finally broke the 0-0 gridlock with Gabe Sherman’s ’21 two-run single in the fourth inning. The Scots would score four more runs that inning and did not look back for the rest of the game. Ryan Sullivan ’23 and Knauf got out of a jam with runners at second and third to limit Hiram to two runs in the fifth inning. For good measure, Camphausen smacked a double in the sixth inning to drive in three runs and extend Wooster’s lead to 9-2. Over the last two innings, Knauf, Jack Jones ‘21, and Colin Springer ‘21 gave up just one more run to ensure a 9-3 Wooster victory. 

Despite all the craziness over the last 18 months, one thing remains constant: Wooster winning a lot of baseball games. Chumita, for one, is happy with how the team has responded to the challenges of this season. “We have certain restrictions [on what] we can and can’t do, but the guys have handled it really well and I think we’ve bonded well as a team and gotten better from it.” They maintain a nine-game winning streak and a #25 Division III ranking.

The Fighting Scots will play their next two games and have their Senior Recognition Day at home on Saturday, May 1 against the Allegheny Gators.