By: CASEY McDONALD
Intensity. Urgency. Sacrifice. Believe.
That is the motto for the newly renovated IUSB baseball team as, under new coaching, headed to their season opener against Taylor University.
Friday was the start of the season for the Titans as right-handed pitcher senior Trey Bickel took the mound against Taylor University’s senior lefty Jordan Crabb. The Titans went 1-2-3 at the plate as junior Brandon Papp and senior Chris Mangus flied out while Kevin Phelps struck out.
With the Titans on defense Bickel had a tough time, going only two thirds of an inning after allowing five runs with only three hits and three walks. Junior righty Kyle Rago replaced Bickel on the mound and closed out the inning, but not before a home run allowed three more runs (one of those given to Bickel’s five).
The next five innings went the exact same way for the Titans as they went scoreless with only three hits, while the Trojans scored 4 more runs on the Titans. Going into the sixth, the Titans were down 0-12 and had some work to do. After Tanner Wesp got in to pinch hit for Alex Leiter. After Mangus got walked, Sammy Nieves homered into left field for a two RBI. After a scoreless inning for Taylor, it was 3-12 going into the seventh.
It didn’t stop there, as IU South Bend scored three more runs in the top of the seventh. Senior Damon Dejesus singled on the left side, then freshman Matt Miller knocked one into left field for a two run home run. Shortly after that it was like a chain of events: Papp singled on a bunt, Phelps got hit by a pitch which advanced Papp to second, Mangus singled into left field which advanced Phelps to second and in came Papp to score. With that, the Titans cut the Trojans lead in half, 6-12.
It wasn’t until the ninth that the Titans scored again, but by then lead for the Trojans had extended after one run scored in the seventh and two in the eighth. So the Titans entered their final try to close the gap.
The first batter into the inning was Miller, who hit a solo home run to make it 7-15. After a flyout to right field and a batter caught looking, the Titans battled to get bases loaded with two outs. Sophomore Josh Fry singled straight down the right field line, sending two more batters in to make it 9-15. But that was all the team could produce as the Titans fell in their opening day game against Taylor University.
Bickel took the loss as the Titans go 0-1 on the season. There is still a long road for this team, and plenty of more baseball to play.
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