Just a year ago, the Utica College Pioneers baseball team completed their season with a record of 12-17. Breaking down the numbers, the record converted to a .414 win percentage and a 4-11 record in Empire 8 play.
In total, E8 standings from the 2018 campaign show that the Pioneers finished last in the conference. Standing out were the two opponents ahead of Utica, Elmira College and Canton.
Both Elmira with a 7-28 record and Canton with an 8-26 record placed sixth and fifth, respectively. The difference was a tie in conference points as each team including Utica finished with eight.
As for this season, Utica has registered over ten games with plenty of action left before the semester ends. However, the Pioneers are posting a negative record to start the season, which continues off the team’s seven-game losing streak at the end of last year.
Despite all of this, Utica’s players still have hope for what is on the horizon. Griffin Baur, a junior pitcher from New York Mills, believes that there’s still room to improve upon.
“There is always room to improve, but one specific thing would be the pitchers giving up fewer walks,” Baur said. “While this isn’t the only problem, as a staff we would put our team in a much better position to win if we throw more strikes.”
Utica finished with 31 wild pitches last season and allowed a total of 81 on-base occasions with 17 home runs. On the flip side of the coin, Baur posted a 4-2 record with a 5.95 ERA.
“Individually, my goal for the year would be to minimize runs allowed,” Baur said. “The last two years, I would tend to give up most of my runs towards the end of my outing, so I am working to improve my stamina in order to maintain my success into the later innings.”
Baur attributes new changes to his overall performance as a pitcher to a variety in the style of a pitch. The business economics major believes in providing hitters with a guessing game each time they step up to the plate, especially when it comes to the changeup.
“This season, I am trying to expand my arsenal by making my changeup a viable pitch,” Baur said. “If I can throw my change up consistently, I will be able to attack the opposing hitters more effectively.”
From the batters’ perspective is first-year infielder Joshua Brickman. Brickman comes from Liverpool and is currently a sports management major.
One of the ways he believes he can make an impression around his new team is to start with an improved batting average, which he can then attribute to the overall success of the team.
“Some individual goals are to hit .300 or above on the season and a team goal is to make the NCAA tournament,” Brickman said. “I made a good impression in Florida this past week as I got on base for the majority of my at-bats and had a couple hits, too.”
Brickman is also balancing his passion for baseball with overall college life, which is something he notices is a major difference between collegiate and high school play.
“In high school, it was a lot lighter as we would only workout a couple of days a week and only held practices when the season started,” Brickman explained. “While in college, we have been practicing six days a week since the start of the spring semester.”
The baseball team as a whole has proved recently that they can put together a streak of wins. To start off 2018, Utica ran out of the gate with a four-game win streak.
Baur wants the team to improve on mistakes which he believes can put those win streaks back together.
“As a team, we are looking to improve our record by making fewer mistakes in every aspect of the game,” Baur said. “By doing this, we should be able to win more games and make the playoffs.”