Try as they might, the Maroons just can't seem to shed the clouds following the team.
Baseball fell 2-1 to Dominican in the team's home opener Wednesday in a game called during the top of the ninth on account of lightning. Third-year right hander Dan Yeksigian took his second loss of the spring despite scattering nine hits and striking out eight in a complete game performance.
"It was an outstanding pitching effort, and a strong if not excellent defensive effort. We just didn't generate anything at the plate," said head coach Brian Baldea. "It's hard to score runs on just four singles in an eight-inning game."
Poor hitting has been a season-long problem for the Maroons, who now stand at 4-7. The team is collectively hitting just .252, with an on-base percentage of .324. Fourth-years shortstop Steve Ruh and third-baseman T.J. Rajcevich have led the way offensively, contributing 18 total bases apiece. Ruh has also knocked in eleven runs.
"We haven't hit well at all. We're not generating offensively. We need to compete at home plate, even if we're not explosive," Baldea said.
In contrast to past years, this team is short on power hitters and will need every player up and down the lineup to contribute RBIs. No member of the squad has hit a home run yet.
"Whoever we put on the field needs to knock in runs with men in scoring position. We can't concentrate in one or two or three guys," Baldea said.
More surprisingly, the team has also struggled with their opponents at bat, having given up 10 or more runs in six games and played surprisingly weak defense. Yeskigian and fourth-year righties Dan Harrington and Matt Altomare, the key members of the pitching staff, have each turned in mixed results. They were not helped by the 31 errors made over the course of the team's 10-game spring trip to Florida, including six in a 23-2 loss to Western New England March 19 and six more in an 117 defeat by Bowdoin March 21. Fielding had been expected to be a strength for this year's squad.
"We've had three or four outstanding pitching performances, which has been a good sign for us, but we've been very inconsistent. I expect us to rely heavily on pitching and making plays behind the pitcher," said Baldea. "We didn't play well at all in Florida defensively, and we need to bank on that. It's a problem throughout the team. We know what kind of team we need to be, and right now, we're not where we wanted to be or where we will be."
The team will have to get things in order in a hurry, as they face a pair of double-headers this weekend. The team will play two at home against Trinity Christian tomorrow, and will head up to Milwaukee for a pair against the Milwaukee School of Engineering Sunday. Wednesday, Chicago is on the road again against Robert Morris.
"I haven't looked at these teams yet, but we're going to have to play the game defensively we had against Dominican and battle enough runs to win," Baldea said. "We expect to win."