Baseball Team Takes Advantage of Bye Week

Tristan Gavin

After seven consecutive weekends playing conference opponents, Whitman baseball had a bye this weekend. Rather than using the break to catch up on sleep and schoolwork, the team flew down to California to take two games from out-of-conference University of Redlands in a doubleheader.

Although it was a lot of travel for a two-game series, the team felt it was necessary to find a chance to get in as many games as possible.

Pitcher and Justin Weeks '13 refocuses after a fast pitch during practice. Photos by Susie Krikava.
Pitcher and Justin Weeks ’13 refocuses after a fast pitch during practice. Photos by Susie Krikava.

“With such a strict limit on number of games played, scheduling a series in an off-week allows us to reach the maximum 40 games played. Also, it would be a waste to take a weekend off during the end of the season when the weather gets nice,” said senior Chris Andrews.

University of Redlands, which plays in the strong SCIAC conference, gave Whitman a taste of strong competition before heading into a league series against a struggling Whitworth team.

“By scheduling quality opponents from other conferences, it allows us to compete and gain experience on a weekend that we would not be able to get game experience, and that is what it is all about at this level,” said junior Cameron Young.

Obviously winning two games bolsters the team’s record and puts them within reach of a .500 finish. The team put up strong offensive efforts and two pitchers, junior Sterling Spilinek and senior Tyler Grisdale, earned their first collegiate wins in the weekend effort. Just as importantly as what went well, the team saw what it needed to work on to finish out the season strong.

“It is important we fine-tune our pitching and fielding, but I think hitting is the most important thing. Whitworth has suffered some key injuries this year but they are a tough team and are definitely going to come ready to play. I’m confident we can play right with them,” said senior Justin Weeks.

Beyond exposure of skills, the trip provided the opportunity for a more intangible growth. Due to a scheduling blunder, the team’s Saturday games were canceled, which took away a chance for more in-game experience, but also provided needed time to come together as a team.

Catcher Jonny Lari '14 with glove at the ready prepares to catch the ball.
Catcher Jonny Lari ’14 with glove at the ready prepares to catch the ball.

“We got the chance to go to a Major League Baseball game. While we did get in a practice that morning, watching the game was a great reminder that we all came to California over a love of the game, and I think that realization brought us together as a team and gave us the refreshing break we needed,” said Andrews.

With several players hailing from Southern California, the trip also allowed players to see their families, one of which opened its home to the team for a Saturday dinner.

“We headed over to Jimmy’s parents where they provided a nice home-cooked meal. I think everyone enjoyed the pool as well as the Huntington Beach sunshine,” said Young.

The road trip was a positive on every level for Whitman, but the team expects to buckle down for two more weeks of hard-nosed baseball.

“Taking two in California allowed us to gain some momentum as we move forward to this weekend’s series against Whitworth. From my understanding, it gives us a shot to have the most wins in the program’s history since moving to DIII if we win out. That is a great incentive to come and push each other each day this week; we may be out of playoff contention, but we have a chance to put our names down in the record books and do what most of us came here for: to turn this program around into something that Whitman students can be proud of,” said Young.