After a rocky start to the season, the Slippery Rock Men’s Baseball team found a way to pull off their first win in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) play when they defeated Mercyhurst Tuesday.
In the teams opening PSAC series of the 2023 campaign, The Rock found themselves down 0-3 to Mercyhurst in a four-game series. The squad ended the fourth game in an 8-7 nailbiter where Slippery Rock came out victorious.
Coach Jeff Messer thinks his squad is capable of big things this season and the early woes are a testament to excellent pitching on the side of Mercyhurst.
“Mercyhurst has as good a pitching staff as I have ever seen. Our guys competed with them but a key hit with runners in scoring position could have been different,” Messer said.
The Rock started conference play with a thrilling twenty-inning game against Mercyhurst where they fell 2-1. To play such a lengthy game early in the season takes a toll on all players and proper precautions must be taken after.
With that type of game coming so early in the season for Slippery Rock it is even more difficult to manage than if it were to come later. Games in the PSAC have been being postponed left and right due to inclement weather. The Rock have done the best they can to keep up with such a difficult schedule.
“It’s tough, there’s teams that are getting all their games in, and there’s teams that are missing out on games,” Messer said. “Yesterday wasn’t a weather delay for us, it was just a five-and-a-half-hour game. To say that it’s easy, it’s not.”
College sports take a toll on all athletes as they must maintain their performances academically and physically. For The Rock baseball squad, it’s no different. It is crucial that players stay up to date on classwork and necessary involvements off the field.
“The players must make sure they get their follow-up, their treatment, and everything that needs to be done with athletic trainers,” Messer said. “Then, making sure they stay up with their classwork so that when we do have a mid-week make-up game, not to leave anyone behind and be sure we can all still play.”
After getting the first PSAC series out of the way, the men look to build off their win against a strong pitching Mercyhurst side and prepare for rivals Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
Messer admitted moving forward the squad must be better offensively leaving less runners on base and executing better in scoring positions.
“We’ve got to get our hitters in a good frame of mind where they aren’t thinking as much, but attacking and getting their pitch,” Messer said.
Looking ahead, Messer is confident in his squad and feels good about the team’s chances competing in a tightly coached PSAC conference.
Key series against IUP, Seton Hill University and Gannon University will highlight some of the better competition the team will have this year.
“I don’t know that there’s anything we need to fix,” Messer said. “I don’t think we change anything other than our approach at the plate.”
Slippery Rock’s Luke Trueman has started the season off hot putting up a .455 batting average in eleven at bats in conference games. On the pitching end of things, Jake Norris has collected the only official win of the season thus far for The Rock.
The team looks to rally behind these leaders and build off a massive win where they avoided the sweep against Mercyhurst. The next challenge will be defeating the archrival of IUP on Friday in Indiana.