A Weekend of Ups and Downs for BVU Baseball

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A Weekend of Ups and Downs for BVU Baseball

Tanner Frost, Sports Editor

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After being picked to finish 5th in the American Rivers Conference at the start of their 2019 campaign, the Beaver Baseball team began the year on the back foot. 

 

When Buena Vista defeated Simpson Storm 4-2 in game one of their three game series to finish Spring Break, the Beavers were surprised when things quickly changed. 

 

A flurry of offense in Indianola saw the Storm earn a pair of wins at 8-5 and 9-7 over BV to wrap up the series. With a poor start to conference play and a 1-2 record, BVU needed to answer back just a week later. 

 

With the chance to host a weekend series with the Loras Duhawks after a split, 1-1 night against Hamline for their home opener, Head Coach Steve Eddie and his team saw their opportunity. 

 

With two veterans of the game in Loras Head Coach Carl Tebon and Coach Eddie—22 and 19 years of coaching experience respectively—the pair would place their trust, and the ball, in the hands of two underclassmen on the mound. 

 

Game one of the 2019 Loras vs Buena Vista baseball series began last Friday night at 6:00 and finished a back-and-forth duel between pitchers. 

 

Sophomore Nick Henrichs took for the mound for Buena Vista in the weekend opener. Henrich’s mix of a curveball plus his signature fastball painting the corners of the batter’s box only allowed a pair of runs to cross home plate in seven innings pitched before Gage Smart came in to relieve. 

 

However, Freshman Samuel Merhefke for the Duhawks had a career night himselfonly allowing two hits. Joe Rock crossed the plate for Buena Vista, but that would be the Beavers’ only run of the game. BV would succumb to a stout Loras defense 2-1, while also falling to 1-3 in conference play. 

 

Needing to bounce back, Buena Vista would have to wait until Sunday as final pair of games in the series slated for Saturday were delayed due to the freezing weather. Unfortunately for Loras, BV took advantage of the off-day to prepare for a comeback in the series. 

 

With another slow start to the offense in game two, Buena Vista’s best chance at scoring on the day came in the form of leadoff hitter Bryce RheaultRheault, a junior batting .389 and two men in scoring position in the forms of Porter Sartor and Ryley McGregor, had the chance to take the lead for his team, down 1-0 in the bottom of the 5th. 

 

Yet, with only one out in the inning Rheault faced a conundrum in what to do against Loras pitcher Erik Edminster. 

 

“It was 2-0 in the count and the kid [Edminster] was throwing curveballs all day. He threw a fastball that I looked by for ball three,” says Rheault. “He threw a lot of off-speed pitches when we were behind in the count so I looked down there at third because I figured I might get the green light. Coach Eddie gave it to me, so I swung away.” 

 

One swing’s contact with the ball was enough for it sail far, then farther, then over the fence. In seconds, Rheault would give Buena Vista a 3-1 lead and the momentum to shift the course of the weekend. 

 

“Off the bat it didn’t feel like I even hit it. I was surprised when I was rounding first but I didn’t think it was gonna go over. I figured it was gonna be a double at most,” says Rheault. 

 

From that point on, Buena Vista rallied and kickstarted the offense they desperately needed. Backing up their starting pitcher Egan Bonde, the Beaver defense also remained composed by limiting Loras to a sacrifice fly for their second and final run of game two. 

 

Henrich’s single to right field scored Noah Paper in bottom of the seventh for one more insurance run, and Buena Vista took game two of the weekend to split the series 1-1. 

 

Coach Eddie was proud of the team’s resolve to hold onto the win and Rheault’s big game. 

 

“Bryce does a lot for this team. He is a great lead-off hitter who can get himself into scoring position in a couple of different ways,” explains Eddie, adding that, “Defensively, he turns the double play as well as anyone I have seen in our league. What we all admire him for though, is his poise. He keeps the same demeanor regardless of the situation. It was one of the biggest hits we have had this year.” 

 

Entering game three the Duhawks would begin back on top, sending three runners to the plate in the top of the second. However, Rheault continued his big weekend with a two RBI single in the bottom of the second to answer back. Just two innings later, Porter Sartor would say goodbye to another baseball for a two run home-run scoring himself and Tyler Stoltze. 

 

Loras would pull another run back to tie the game at four a piece, but Ryley McGregor would be the deciding hitter in the series. With a single that scored Easton Bahr in the bottom of the 8th, that would be the final runner to cross home. A 5-4 win for BV in game three, and a 2-1 win in the series to come back after a slow Friday night for the batting lineup. 

 

With their record back up to 3-3 in conference play, Eddie and the Beavers started things slow. But, as BV gained momentum over the course of the weekend, it proved pivotal. 

 

“Most series openers are dominated by pitchers, and the Loras games were no different,” says Eddie. Their guys mixed in their off-speed and kept us off-balance.  In Sunday’s games, I felt we put the ball in play more often and swung at better pitches.  We need to put more pressure on the opposing pitcher to throw more pitches in the strike zone.” 

 

With the focus on the offense improving, Eddie made sure to credit his defense for only giving up eight runs in three games. 

 

“Our pitchers did a great job. We kept Loras from being aggressive on the bases and we didn’t allow them to have a big inning. We gave up some hits, but we really made them earn the runs they got,” says Eddie. “Our defense played very solid baseball and turned a couple of big double plays when we needed it. The series win was critical this early in the season, we got ourselves back into the middle of the pack in the league standings.” 

 

As the sun set on another Sunday night in Storm Lake, Buena Vista improved their record to 10-11 overall while the Duhawks fell to 9-9. 

 

BV Baseball will be back in action this weekend with a trio of games against Central, starting on Friday at 3:00 p.m.