The Slippery Rock University baseball team continued its North Carolina road trip Sunday with a doubleheader at Wingate University.
SRU dropped both games without putting up much of a fight, losing game one 13-4 and game two 10-3. The Rock drops to a 1-3 record after its first four games of the season.
SRU head coach Jeff Messer thought his team looked sluggish after a long bus ride and having played a doubleheader on Saturday.
“Mentality was as discouraging as anything else, we just weren’t ready to play. The weather probably did have an impact on that. It was a long trip they were probably tired out,” Messer said. “We have some very good players and a very good team, but you just don’t like coming back one and three. Against quality teams like that you have to put everything together.”
The Green and White got off to a good start in game one as freshman center fielder Frankie Jezioro started off the top of the first inning with an infield single before stealing two bases to end up at third.
Then with two outs, senior first baseman Alex Bell blasted a home run off the scoreboard in left field to put The Rock up 2-0 early.
Sophomore pitcher Stephen McKee got the start in game one and struggled to find the strike zone. McKee lasted only three innings, giving up five hits, six runs (three earned), walking five batters and hitting another while taking the loss.
Freshman Jay Cortese came in to relieve McKee in the third inning and fared no better, giving up four hits, seven runs (one earned) and walking two in the game’s final three innings.
Sophomore shortstop Mitchell Wood had a good day at the plate, going 2-3 with a double and two runs scored.
However, Wood struggled in the field, committing five throwing errors in the game.Sophomore second baseman Matt Mandes was removed from the game with an apparent injury in the sixth inning.
The Rock started off well again in the second game as junior right fielder Ty Zimmerman doubled in the top of the first inning and was driven in by a Christian Porterfield single two batters later. Porterfield, a sophomore, started at catcher in game two and finished with two hits and two RBI’s.
The Rock was unable to hold the lead very long however, as junior infielder/pitcher Preston Falascino gave up the tying run in the bottom of the first and another seven runs in the bottom of the second. Falascino finished with two innings pitched, seven runs allowed (six earned) and two walks, taking the loss. Falascino was replaced by sophomore Shawn Holman who pitched four innings, giving up four hits, two runs (one earned), walking two and striking out two.
SRU added a run in the sixth on a solo home run by freshman infielder Joe Campagna and one final run in the seventh as Porterfield drove in Falascino for his second RBI.
Wood’s rough day in the field continued as he committed another throwing error before being replaced by freshman infielder Ray Scala.
Despite the rough day, Messer expects Wood to be the team’s starting shortstop moving forward.
“The ball just felt like an ice cube and it got into his head. We did not want to lose him mentally. In hindsight maybe I should’ve taken him out and let him not think about it as much,” Messer said. “Sooner or later he’s got to go back in and do it. Take that game out of the mix and he’s still one of the best defensive shortstops in our conference. It’s a day that he just has to put behind him and get back out there.”
Bell left the game with an apparent arm injury after being hit by a pitch in the first inning.
Junior left fielder James Divosevic was on base three times in the game with two singles and a walk.
Zimmerman was the best SRU player of the day, going 3-8 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.
Slippery Rock will now have to wait 12 days between games as the team travels to Virginia on Feb. 26 to compete in the Dinwiddie Invitational.