The Lords baseball team had to wait for quite a while to begin their regular-season slate upon returning from Florida, where their spring break games were held. After four games were postponed due to inclement weather last week, Kenyon finally returned to the field for their home opener on Tuesday against Bluffton University. The team was clearly excited to get back in action, as they earned a two-game sweep of a doubleheader against the Beavers with 5-2 and 6-3 victories. On Wednesday, Kenyon continued their stellar run of play with a victory over Muskingum University 5-3, extending their win streak to six and moving to 11-6 overall.
Over spring break, Kenyon started their season strong in the Sunshine State. After losing their first three games, the Lords bounced back to win eight out of their last 11, returning home with an 8-6 record. Their turnaround was in large part thanks to the performance of two-way player Alex Gow ’22, who was especially brilliant on the mound in Florida. In three starts, the Northern California native did not allow a single earned run, and he recorded an outstanding 30 strikeouts in 18 innings. His second start against Hood College (Md.) earned him a National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association honorable mention for National Pitcher of the Week, when Gow threw a complete-game, seven-inning shutout with 15 strikeouts.
Gow started on the mound for the Lords’ home opener on Tuesday. After a 1-2-3 first inning, the visiting Beavers found their stride in the second, when a couple of slowly hit ground balls found a hole between the infielders to ignite a rally. Later in the inning, Bluffton took advantage to take a 2-0 lead. However, Kenyon was unfazed. In the bottom half of the second, the Lords scored four runs to set the tone for the rest of the game. After back-to-back singles, Tripper Capps ’24 was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Will Sturgeon ’22 then moved the line forward with an infield single, before Drew Robinson ’24 was also hit by a pitch, tying the game at 2. A wild pitch in the following at-bat allowed Capps to score, giving the Lords a 3-2 lead. Kenyon later added a fourth run to extend their advantage.
The purple and black spent the rest of the game attempting to hold onto a slim lead. They were able to do so after great relief pitching and some excellent defense. The Lords’ bullpen provided five scoreless innings to close out the seven-inning game.
But the relievers certainly didn’t do it alone. A key double play ensured Kenyon would hold on to win. In the top of the third, Bluffton had a runner at third with one out. Beavers outfielder Garrett O’Reilly hit a flyball to center. Robinson circled the ball and made the routine catch.
However, his next move was far from routine. After securing the catch, Robinson fired a dart to home plate on the fly to catcher Andrew Rabinowitz ’22 to throw out the runner tagging from third base, making a spectacular double play. Robinson quickly knew he had a great shot of throwing out the baserunner. “I was confident that I would throw him out if he tried to run,” Robinson said. “As soon as I caught it, I saw him take off and let the ball fly. Once I saw that the throw was on target, I knew [Rabinowitz] was going to make the out at the plate.” Following Robinson’s outfield assist to end the third, Kenyon’s bullpen shut the door in the late innings, and the home squad secured a 5-2 victory.
Despite outstanding pitching through the first six innings, the Lords found themselves behind 1-0 in the second leg of the doubleheader. Again, Robinson made a game-changing play, this time in the batter’s box. With runners on second and third with two outs, Robinson bounced a single through the right side to knock in two and give his team the lead. The Illinois product credited his approach at the plate. “I was definitely looking to hit the ball the other way. And even though I hit it off the end of the bat, sometimes you get lucky and the ball drops,” Robinson said. “Definitely not my best swing, but it got the job done.”
In the following inning, the Lords opened the floodgates, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh to extend their lead to 6-1. Despite a nerve-racking ninth inning, the team held on to win 6-3 to complete the doubleheader sweep. Sturgeon was proud of the way the squad responded after the long layoff. “It was great to get out there and get into rhythm back at home. I thought we threw the ball really well — a bunch of guys stepped up and protected leads in both games,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with our consistent development as a team.”
Kenyon was equally fantastic in their win over Muskingum on Wednesday. They jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second, thanks to Robinson yet again. The Lords’ centerfielder hit a two-run double to left-center, scoring Capps and Luke Meister ’24. A sacrifice fly extended the Lords lead to 3-0. In the sixth, the Fighting Muskies got a run back to narrow the home’s lead to 4-1. However, Meister, who went three for three, hammered a solo home run to left-center, his first of the season to answer back in the bottom half.
After two home runs by Muskingum in the eighth, the Lords lead stood dangerously at 5-3. In the final frame, the Fighting Muskies built a rally, putting runners on first and second with one out and the go-ahead run at the plate. Southpaw Joel Biery ’22 entered the game with this dicey situation in front of him, and came through in the clutch for the Lords. Biery struck out the last two hitters of the game, securing the hard-fought victory.
The Lords will look to extend their winning streak this weekend when they travel to face Hiram College in a doubleheader matchup on Saturday.