Lakeland Muskie baseball off to a shaky start in Florida

Sean Gilligan and Sean Gilligan

While the rest of Lakeland College’s students were taking their week off for Spring break, the Muskie baseball team headed down to Florida to escape from a long winter of indoor practices and finally get the chance to play under the warm Fort Myers sun.

The Muskies head down to Florida for one week every year for some spring training baseball, and the opportunity to get some real games in before they return to Wisconsin and start conference play.

This week of games is a critical time for the team to perfect the finer points of the game and work out any kinks they have not been able to address practicing indoors back home. The Muskies play a total of nine games during the week they spend in Florida.

This year the Muskies return from Florida with a disappointing 4-5 record. The Muskies started off the trip on a positive note grabbing a 4-3 win over Elm’s College of Massachusetts, with Junior Pitcher Matt Weller picking up the win in relief.

The Muskies would then go on a three-game skid losing the second game to Elm’s College 2-3, and then dropping two more games to Salve Regina of Fort Myers, Florida with scores of 4-13 and 3-8. The Lakeland pitching staff gave up 28 hits to Salve Regina over the course of the pair of games, with Freshman Pitcher Jared Rear and Freshman Luke Mandich both picking up losses.

The Muskies bounced back from the skid by picking up three wins against Monmouth, Defiance, and Lawrence, in that order. The first victory against Monmouth was led by an excellent pitching performance from Freshman Luke Kelly, who pitched 7.2 innings and gave up only one earned run. Junior Pitcher Derek Loomans picked up his first win of the season against Lawrence, and Matt Weller picked up another win in relief against Defiance.

Through these games and the whole trip the Muskie offense was led by Junior Tim Kuchenbecker, who after this trip is batting .459 with 9 RBIs. Freshman Jared Rear, with a .438 BA, and Junior Charlie Sparrow, with a .423 BA and 9 RBIs, were both critical to the Muskie’s offensive production as well.

The Muskies then rounded out the trip by dropping their last two games to Lawrence and Olivet with scores of 11-15 and 4-7, respectively. Senior Pitcher Andy Chitwood struggled in his start against Lawrence, giving up 6 ER in only 2.1 innings, although the loss ultimately fell on Relief Pitcher Matt Weller. Mandich took the loss against Olivet.

Now that the Muskies have returned to Wisconsin it seems that the biggest opponent they have to face is mother nature. Their first doubleheader, which was scheduled for Mar 24 against Cardinal Stritch, has been postponed.

Senior Third Baseman Justin Reminger said this about the trip and the weather upon returning, “I wish we would have performed better in Florida, but that’s behind us now and we have to improve from there. I just hope the weather gives a chance to start playing games pretty soon.”

If the weather allows for it, the Muskies’ next game will be played Mar 30 at Maranatha Baptist Bible College.

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