By Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
Asbury baseball played four games this past October as a way of prepping for the main part of their season. The Eagles were able to put four contests under their belt in the fall as they tuned up for a packed schedule in the spring. They’ll open with four games against the Grace College Lancers spread across double headers on Feb. 17 and 18, and have over 50 games scheduled from then until April.
“It’s a marathon,” said Asbury Baseball’s head coach Manny Cervantes. “The guys are excited, they’re chomping at the bit to start, but we realize it’s not always how you start, but how you finish.”
In October, the Eagles picked up three wins against Ohio Christian University and lost by a single run against University of Cincinnati-Clermont in a game that went to extra innings.
“It’s a great way to get a first impression on the team and some things to work on,” Cervantes said. “There are some things that, without playing, you can’t really simulate in practice.”
The team has been on the upswing since Cervantes’ appointment for the 2015 season. They improved to 12-16 in conference play last season, winning 22 total games in the process.
To keep that momentum going, the team will be looking to some of their upperclassmen to lead the way. Senior Matt Cohick led the team in hits (8), batting average (.533) and RBI (6) during the Eagles four games in October. Senior Brenden Wells kept opposing batters under .207 during his eight innings, allowing only an average of three runs.
“It starts and ends on the mound, and we’re probably going to go as far as our pitching takes us,” Cervantes said. “It’s probably the most talented pitching staff that we’ve had since I’ve been here. Guys like Brandon Wells, Joey Johnson, Bryce Anderson…we’re really counting on them to help us out this season.”
That’s not to say that the younger players won’t factor into the team’s plans. Sophomore Alejandro Jivanjee started all four of the Eagles fall games, hitting .462 with a homerun and four RBI.
“We have a number of young players that are going to contribute right away,” Cervantes said. “Throwing them out in the deep end [in October] and seeing whether or not they could really help us…through that time and the practices since then, they’ve confirmed that.”