Dominant pitching has Mac baseball off to hot 4-0 start

By Patrick Murphy

After just missing out on the MIAC playoffs last season, the Macalester baseball team comes into this season with three star senior captains, a pletheora of young talent, and the confidence that they have what it takes to make some noise in the MIAC this season. “After a long offseason, the expectations could not be higher,” catcher Garrett Salzman ’12 said. “We had a great opportunity last year and we let it slip away. This year is going to be all about taking advantage of our opportunities.”

Second baseman Mitch Glasser ’12 described the hunger that he felt to get back on the field all offseason as comparable to the hunger he feels before breaking the fast on Yom Kippur.

“All fall and winter I could see that buffet of delicious noodle koogle, brisket and matzah ball soup, but I wasn’t allowed to eat it.” Glasser said. “Now its time to indulge!”

Opening the season against Wartburg College (IA) last Friday night in the Metrodome, the Scots came out with guns blazing to scorch Wartburg 6-1, 5-1. Wartburg was regarded as one of the top D-III teams in the country last year, but apparently someone forgot to tell Macalester ace starting pitcher James Murrey ’10. Coming off of a stellar 2009 season where he was one of the top D-III pitchers in the nation (1.95 ERA, 6 wins, 76 strikeouts), Murrey picked up right where he left off, striking out nine and walking none on his way on his way to a complete game.

In the second game of the night, which didn’t get under way until well after midnight, starting pitcher Nick Meerson ’12 was wide awake, striking out four Wartburg hitters through five strong innings of one run ball on his way to picking up the win for the Scots. Returning since missing all of last year after tearing all three ligaments in his knee, Jack Cooper ’11 finished the game strong, striking out a pair of batters in two scoreless innings.

Catcher Robert Williams ’12, one of the top freshmen in the MIAC last year, started strong, collecting four hits and three RBI’s over the two games. Roberto Capriotti ’13 doubled down the left field line for his first college hit, collecting an RBI in the process. The well-spoken Capriottio, who doubles as a thespian in the Macalester theatre program, attributed his success to the team captains.

“Nate Wilson-Traisman and Devin English have helped with the transition to the college game as exemplary leaders and great teammates in practice,” he said.

On Monday night, the team returned to the dome to face Presentation College (S.D.). The strong pitching carried over from the Wartburg series with starting pitcher Alex Ingram ’11 striking out seven, and only allowing one earned run over five innings on his way to picking up the win. Ingram played an integral role in the team’s success last year, stepping up when starting pitcher Eric Robinson ’10 went down for the year with an arm injury. Robinson made his return in relief of Ingram, picking up the save for the Scots.

“It feels great to be back,” said Robinson. “I missed the competitive aspect of the game during the time that I was injured.”

The return of Robinson and Cooper is a very positive sign for the Scots.”Our pitching has looked the best it has in my three years here.” Ingram said. “With Cooper and Robinson back, we have a very solid staff this year.”

Elliot Yodh ’11 got the ball in the late game against Presentation. The feisty junior struck out six while only allowing two hits over five innings en route to collecting his first victory on the season.

So far this season the Scots have struggled to maintain consistency on offense early on. The catchers Williams and Salzman along with shortstop Nate Wilson-Traisman ’10 have carried the load offensively. Williams is off to a torrid start, hitting .462 with three doubles and four RBI’s. Salzman is hitting an even .300 with a pair of doubles. After struggling early, captain shortstop Nate Wilson-Traisman ’10 broke out against Presentation with a homerun and four RBI’s.

The team has been effective up to this point in the season, but the level of competition ramps up during the team’s spring break trip to Arizona and later on in conference play.

On April 13, the team will take on defending national champion St. Thomas. UST is still the top-ranked team in the country, and few people give Mac much of a chance against the dominant Tommies, but the players won’t have any of it.

“UST…ICUP…They are just like any other team to me. Baseball is a funny game because anyone can beat anyone on any given day.” Glasser said. “I feel like we can win any game with the pitching staff we have this year.”

Murrey echoed Glasser’s confidence. “I’d match our best against their best any day of the week.” Murrey said. “We’ve improved in every facet of the game. There’s no reason we shouldn’t compete with every team on our schedule this year.”

The Scots take on the University of Wisconsin- Superior Monday at the Metrodome before heading to Arizona for their spring break trip.