Wooster Returns from Southern Trip With 8-4 Record

Steve Hagen
Steve Hagen

The College of Wooster won eight of 12 games during its annual two-week southern swing, headlined by a 6-0 victory over defending NCAA Div. III national champion and No. 1 ranked Marietta College. Entering that match-up, Wooster had dropped back-to-back games against traditional New Jersey Athletic Conference powers Rowan University (16-5) and Montclair State University (8-5), but Steve Hagen, making his first career start, pitched eight shutout innings and Billy Farrow provided a two-run homer in the seventh off of the 2011 Div. III Pitcher of the Year, Marietta's Brian Gasser, to break the scoreless tie, as the sophomores keyed the big win.

That set the tone for a stretch that saw the Fighting Scots win seven of eight games, which included the offense putting up 20 and 14 runs in back-to-back games versus Western Connecticut State University (20-2) and Colby College (14-2).

Wooster closed the trip with a doubleheader split of one-run games against Plymouth State University, taking the first 3-2 and falling in the second 5-4, despite a three-run home run from Eddie Reese that tied it at four in the top of the seventh.

Through 12 games, the offensive leader appears to be sophomore right fielder Zac Mathie. The 2011 North Coast Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year reached base safely in every game, while batting .444 with 12 runs scored, five doubles, a triple, and nine RBI.  The only other play to start all 12 was Reese, as the sophomore shortstop hit .386 with three doubles, a pair of homers, and 12 RBI, and matching him with the two home runs and 12 RBI was junior left fielder Johnathan Ray.

Junior centerfielder Ryan Miner finished the spring break swing at the top of the order, as he batted .429 with three doubles and four stolen bases, while sophomore Jarrod Mancine also spent time there, compiling a .395 average and four steals.

The other regulars in the lineup consisted of sophomore third baseman Craig Day (.367), sophomore first baseman Cal Thomay (.294), senior catcher Michael DeBord (.258), and senior designated hitter Zack Vesco (.226).

Going into the trip, the pitching staff appeared to be a question mark for the Scots with the graduation of their top-two starts and closer as well as the loss of this spring's anticipated ace, junior lefty Keenan White, due to injury. Led by the foursome of Hagen, Josh Stidham, Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads, and Kyle Koski, though, Wooster appears that it will be just fine.

Hagen, a middle reliever as a freshman, won both of his starts during the trip and also earned credit for two saves, while posting a near-flawless 0.50 ERA during 18.0 innings. Stidham took the ball first and the Scots' new ace showed great promise with a 1.42 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 19.0 innings, as the senior won two of three starts.

Cunningham-Rhoads, also a senior, ate up a team-high 20.2 innings in five appearances, while matching Stidham's 2-1 record and producing a 4.35 ERA, and Koski won his only decision (1-0) to go with a 4.50 ERA , and the sophomore only yielded one extra-base hit during 16.0 innings of work.

Wooster now heads into its routine schedule with a couple of weekday games, at Muskingum University (6-7) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and at home against Baldwin-Wallace College (13-2) Wednesday at 4 p.m., followed by a four-game NCAC East Division series over the weekend against Kenyon College (11-5).