Baseball is back at The University, and the Royals have one thing on their minds: winning a Landmark Conference championship.
“I do feel that everyone’s on the same page with that,” senior outfielder Anthony Simone said. “A winning record is obviously one goal, but the main goal is winning the Landmark.”
The University’s baseball team started its season with three wins in four games, but finished last weekend’s Baltimore Invitational in Owings Mills, Maryland with two close losses to break even at 3-3.
The team has never won a Landmark Conference championship but showed promise in each game this season.
The Royals opened the year with a doubleheader sweep of Albright College at Diamond Nation in Flemington, New Jersey on Feb. 25.
In game one, The University scored four runs in the third inning, and that was all the Royals needed, winning 5-3. Senior Patrick O’Dell posted a two-RBI double in that inning, finishing the day 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs.
The Royals only earned three hits in game two, but took the 10-inning contest 3-2 after a walk-off RBI single by O’Dell with the bases loaded.
The next day, The University dropped a slugfest to Widener University, 21-13. Junior outfielder Ryan Coonahan led the team with three hits, a run scored and two RBIs. The Royals combined for 15 hits.
A 9-5 win over Keystone College on Saturday highlights the year so far. The Giants were the No. 4 team in the nation at the time, according to D3baseball.com.
Junior infielder Justin Howell went 3-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI against Keystone. The run and RBI were part of an eight-run third inning that sealed the upset victory.
“It was a sweet victory,” Howell said. “We were clicking on all levels. Defense, offense and pitching were all working really well together.”
Howell is tied for the team’s best batting average at .400.
“We had timely hits, played solid defense, got the outs when we needed them,” Howell said. “It was a big team victory.”
The University rallied back from an early two-run deficit behind the firepower of its veterans and underclassmen.
Junior Tommy Trotter singled and doubled, including an RBI and a run scored. Senior Dan Hansen and first-year Kevin Haag each had two-RBI singles and scored runs. Simone added two hits, a run scored and an RBI.
On the mound, senior Sean McNamara pitched six innings to earn the win and first-year Kyle Bravin pitched the final three innings to record the save, bringing the Royals to 3-1 after four games.
The University dropped its next two games to a pair of strong teams. The Royals almost forged a final-inning comeback at Stevenson University, but they fell short 9-8. Later that afternoon, the Royals tallied 11 hits against Frostburg State University, but lost 6-4.
The Royals have several players who have seen significant playing time in previous years, but no captains were assigned to individually lead the team.
“Coach put it on us this year to progress, to step up no matter how old you are,” Simone said. “It’s kind of on the upperclassmen to show the young guys how it works here as far as what we expect out of them and as far as effort and commitment to the team.
“I’d say we’re pretty young, but that doesn’t take away from my confidence in our ability.”
The Royals travel to Fort Myers, Florida for a five-day, seven-game series starting this weekend.
Their first match up is against Lakeland University Saturday at 3 p.m.