By Emily Sierra Poertner
Before their loss in extra innings to Ferrum on Wednesday night, the Maroons’ baseball team had put together an incredible eight game win streak. This was the longest win streak since the team’s inception. The Maroons are playing over .500 this year with a record of 11-7, 6-4 in the ODAC. Since Roanoke started a baseball program in 2002, the Maroons have yet to have a winning season, yet this streak shows baseball is ready to break that trend this season.
This week, Maroons took both the ODAC Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week honors. Will Black, sophomore catcher, won Player of the Week, and John Ruhlman, a lefty pitcher sophomore, won Pitcher of the Week. It’s been almost two years since a Maroon has earned Pitcher of the week, and over three years since a Maroon has been awarded Player of the Week.
The winning streak started out with a double header against Johnson University on March 21. The Maroons shut out the Royals in the first game, winning 8-0. Ruhlman pitched five innings for the Maroons, and was awarded the win. He struck out nine batters and only allowed three hits. In the second game, the Maroons dominated 21-7. Roanoke was led in RBIs by Dan Brodeur with 4 in the second game. In that game, scoring was led by Brodeur, Ross Strickland, and Brian Kluge who each notched three runs.
Roanoke scraped by with a close win in their next game on March 24, winning 3-2 over William Peace University. Roanoke took the lead early, going up 2-0 in the first three innings. Decker had an RBI in the first, scoring Kluge. Then, in the second, Kluge tripled to right field, scoring Brodeur. The Pacers tied the game in the fifth, but the Maroons managed to mount a late comeback. In the bottom of the eighth, Kluge tallied his second RBI of the game, scoring Will Black. Chad Hill closed the game pitching, holding off William Peace, and was awarded the win.
The next day, the Maroons blew out Emory & Henry, scoring 11 runs top Emory & Henry’s three. Roanoke started the scoring in the first inning with an RBI by Will Decker which scored Black. Again in the third, Decker blasted an RBI and scored Black for the second time. A few batters later, Clark Crutchfield recorded two RBIs, scoring Craig Kiley and Kluge. Emory had two runs in the bottom of the third, and both teams were held scoreless for three innings before Roanoke and Emory each had a run in the seventh. Emory’s pitcher Nick Lesnak couldn’t control Maroon bats in the eighth, so the Maroons ran away with the game, scoring five runs and securing their 11-3 victory.
The Maroons dominated Greensboro College the next day, shutting them out 14-0. Kluge showed his dominance, leading the Maroons in hits, runs, and RBIs with 4, 3, and 3 respectively. Kluge also had two stolen bases in the meeting. Cal Hodgert, Anthony Teixeira, Danny Creel, and Drew Mikula each had two runs in the game. Black and Craig Kiley each had two RBIs. Roanoke played five pitchers in the game, and the win was awarded to Jack Kolls who pitched two innings and only allowed one hit.
On March 28, Roanoke had another double header, this time against Washington and Lee. The Maroons shut out the Generals 6-0 in the first game. Ruhlman pitched eight innings, facing 26 batters. He had eleven strikeouts and only allowed three hits. Not only was Ruhlman awarded the win for the game, but because of his performance he also earned the ODAC Pitcher of the Week. In this game, Devin Cassity lead the team in RBIs with two. The six runs in the game all came from different players, Black, Brodeur, Decker, Gavin Pellitteri, Hodgert, and Teixeira. The second game of the doubleheader was a little closer, but the Maroons still pulled for the victory, winning 6-3. The Black scored two runs in the first three innings, with an RBI from Hodgert in the first and one from Crutchfield in the third. In the bottom of the third, the Generals scored three runs, putting them up 3-2 over Roanoke. In the fifth, Decker had a sacrifice fly to score Cassidy, tying the game. In the seventh, Roanoke retook the lead with an RBI from Hodgert scoring Kluge. Cassidy had a sacrifice fly in the eighth, scoring Brodeur. Later, in the ninth, Hodgert got another RBI, allowing Decker to score and ensuring a win for the Maroons.
The Tuesday night game against Emory and Henry was the final game of the Maroons’ winning streak. This was another blow-out, with Roanoke winning by a score of 10-1. Cameron Holshouser was awarded the win, pitching six innings and allowing just one run. It was obvious Emory’s pitchers were not performing well that night. Three runs were scored off wild pitches from two different pitchers. Also, the Maroons had five unearned runs due to Emory and Henry errors. Hodgert and Collier Donald led the Maroons in RBIs in this game with two each. Kluge and Kiley led the Maroons in runs, scoring two apiece.
Sadly, the Maroons’ winning streak ended on Wednesday night against Ferrum College, though it was a close match. Ferrum scored the first two runs off a wild pitch in the first and managed a solo home run in the second inning. Roanoke tied the game back up with Black scoring in the third off a wild pitch and Cassity scoring in the seventh with the RBI by Kluge. Neither team scored again after the end of nine innings, forcing extra inning. The game was still scoreless after ten innings, but the Maroons brought the pressure in the eleventh. Teixeira had an unearned run. Then, Donald scored an unearned run after Black doubled to center. Unfortunately, the Maroons couldn’t hold Ferrum in the closing inning, and the team scored three runs in the bottom of the eleventh to end the game. Gregory was credited with the loss after allowing the three winning runs.
With thirteen games left in the season, the Maroons have a chance to get their first winning season in school record. The next matchup will be a tough double header for the Maroons at home. They will face Randolph-Macon, currently 17-4 on the season. They’ll be playing on Lewis-Gale Field with start times of 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Be sure to come out and support the Maroons as they continue their strong season.