Knights Gain Important Experience on Florida Trip
The MLC baseball team finished its season-opening trip to Florida 0-8, but showed a great deal of improvement over a season ago, and hopes to use these experiences to get over the hump once conference play starts at the end of March.
The Knights started the trip with a tough loss in extra innings to familiar foe Northwestern, a game in which the Knights caught a tough break on a bad hop over the head of Tyler Dorn that could have ended the game in MLC’s favor. Following that opening game, the Knights hung tough in most of their games, but were unable to avoid big innings against Susquehanna, Ursinus and Westminster before losing two three-run games to Geneva to close the trip.
The biggest improvement from a season ago came at the plate, where the Knights hit .286 as a team on the eight game trip. It collected 66 hits on the trip, 35 more than a season ago.
Eric Mielke finished as the team’s top hitter on the trip, hitting .421 in six games. Aaron Stokke provided some punch in the middle of the line-up, batting .387 with a team-best 12 hits and eight RBI.
Several newcomers also had nice debuts for the Knights, with Keoni Hill hitting three doubles in 21 at bats, and Andrew Nemmers hitting .348 with three runs batted in.
On the mound, the Knights’ top two starters both pitched well. Jacob Ziel led the team with 11 strikeouts in 11.1 innings, and pitched well outside of one bad inning against Northwestern. Mielke led the team with a 4.15 ERA and 13 innings pitched on the trip, striking out ten batters and keeping the Knights in both games he pitched.
Overall, despite the record on the trip, MLC coach Randy Cox was pleased with how his team showed up to play on the opening trip.
”The core of the team worked hard in fall ball and came ready to compete this season,” Cox said. “I was very proud of the Knights and the effort they showed while down in Florida.”
While he was pleased with the offense, Cox knows his team has some things to work out leading up to the conference season, especially for a defense that committed 23 errors in its first action outside all season.
“I was satisfied with our offensive production,” Cox said, “as we had some hard hit balls that did not fall for us. That will come. The outfield play was solid, but we have some work to do on our infield defense.