Despite having its home opener for the 2014 season cancelled this past weekend, the University of Indianapolis baseball team did not let that keep them on the bench. The Greyhounds traveled to Huntsville, Ala., to play a weekend series against the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. The Greyhounds finished the series with a 1-2 record against the Chargers, bringing their overall record to 3-3.
Although the Greyhounds opened up the third contest of the series with a 3-0 lead following the top of the fourth, the Chargers charged back in the bottom of the same inning adding two runs of their own. UAH added another run in the fifth and sixth innings to take the lead. They eventually pulled away, creating six runs in the eighth and winning 10-3.
During the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday, March 1, the Greyhounds fell short, despite a comeback effort, 3-2. After the Chargers opened the game up with a 3-0 first inning advantage, the Greyhounds bounced back in the fourth, adding two runs of their own. Those would be the last runs of the contest, however, as the Chargers went on to claim the victory.
In the first contest on Saturday, the Greyhounds opened up the series with a convincing 9-6 victory. After trailing 5-1 heading into the seventh inning, the Greyhounds put together a statistically dominant performance, scoring eight runs. The Chargers managed to add one more run in the ninth, but it was not enough, as UIndy held on for the win.
The Greyhounds traveled to Missouri S&T to open its regular season Feb. 22-23, playing a doubleheader on the first day and a single game on the second. The Hounds swept the opposing team in the doubleheader but fell short in a 5-4 loss the next day.
In the opening game against Missouri S&T, the Hounds defeated the Miners 10-0. The Hounds had been practicing indoors only and had one outdoor practice prior to the game against the Miners. The Hounds scored four runs in the first inning, one run in the fourth and fifth innings and four runs in the seventh.
In game two against the Miners, the Hounds opened up with a leadoff triple by senior shortstop Jake Weinzapfel. Weinzapfel scored on a fielder’s choice by junior outfielder Joe Trennepohl. The Hounds then went four straight innings before junior outfielder Zach Howard scored for the Hounds in the sixth inning. Junior outfielder Zach Jacobs also scored for the Hounds in the sixth inning. The Greyhounds then wrapped up the victory with three more runs in the seventh.
The Hounds finished out the weekend against the Miners on Feb. 23 with a 5-4 loss. The Hounds out-hit the Miners 9-7 but still failed to capitalize, leaving nine runners on base and striking out 10 times during the game.
Last season, the Hounds finished the year winning 10 of their last 13 games, missing the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament by half a game. For the 2014 season, the team has been forced to rebuild, after graduating nearly two-thirds of last season’s production on offense. The Hounds brought in 21 newcomers this year to help improve the roster. Seniors pitcher Josh Witt, catcher Caleb Hallman and Weinzapfel are the team’s leaders for this season, according to Head Baseball Coach Gary Vaught.
Vaught has made clear goals for the team this season, following last season’s unexpected finish.
“We were coming off of going to the World Series a few years ago, and last year was kind of a disappointing year. We were picked to win it and didn’t even make the conference tournament for the first time,” Vaught said. “Our goal is, first off, to play good baseball and hopefully get back to the conference tournament, and then let that expand on to the regionals and hopefully back to the series. I think we have a chance this year.”
Looking ahead, Weinzapfel said he also believes that the team has the capability to do some great things this season.
“Talent-wise, we are very talented. I am not worried about any position that we have that doesn’t have the talent,” Weinzapfel said. “I think that the only thing we need to worry about is staying together as a team [and] making sure that we are rooting for each other every single game.”
Vaught said he believes the team has a chance to get back into the conference tournament this season.
“I think we’ll make some mistakes. Hopefully, they’ll be physical mistakes and not mental mistakes. We’ve been working very hard,” Vaught said. “I think we have a very good chance this year. I like our team and the way they’ve been working, not only on the field but in the classroom.”
The Greyhounds prepare next for a weekend series on the road against the Drury University Panthers, March 7-9. The first game is set to begin at 6 p.m.