WSU baseball has first win of the season over spring break

WSU+Baseball+coaches+raking+the+field+in+hopes+of+good+field+conditions+be-+fore+the+supposed+Northern+State+University+series.

Mohammed Islam

Winona State Baseball team getting geared up for a practice after the cancelled matchup against Northern State University.

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, sports editor

Each year when spring break rolls back around, the Winona State University baseball team has a series of games down in Florida before the start of conference play directly after. 

This year, the team faced University of Findlay, Florida Southern College, Seton Hill University (Pa.), Ashland University, Florida Tech and University of the Sciences after taking last year off due to Winona State’s cancellation of spring break.

The Warriors started the series in Auburndale, Fla. against University of Findlay on March 3, 2022, where they earned their first win of the season by three runs. 

Fourth-year player Nick Herbst had a good day at bat going 4 for 6 including three base hits in a row. 

On top of Herbst’s performance, fellow fourth-year player Derek Baumgartner had four runs batted in, including two home runs for three this season so far. 

“[My goal] is to just keep having good at bats and give the program and game everything I have,” Baumgartner said. “I know that if I keep playing hard others will follow.”

Reeling in the win for the Warriors was third year Caleb Strack, who pitched three innings and some change while striking out seven hitters, bringing the score of the day to 9-6 in the team’s favor. 

Herbst and Baumgartner continued to have good games when they played Florida Southern the next day.

Herbst had a two baser and a single, scoring Dane Weiland, and Baumgartner had one RBI and a sacrifice fly, scoring Joshua Hawksford.

Unfortunately, the game proved to be a setback with an end score of 13-4 for the second game out of six. 

“I’m confident in the level of teams we’ve already seen like the teams that we have played this season have no doubt prepared us to play Northern State and every other team in the conference,” Trocke said. “So personally, like, I don’t look at non-conference records at all.”

Baseball coaches raking the field in hopes of good field conditions be- fore the supposed Northern State University series.
Baseball coaches raking the field in hopes of good field conditions be- fore the supposed Northern State University series. (Mohammed Islam)

Down in Davenport, Fla. for game three against Seton Hill, who participated in the 2021 College World Series, Winona State battled hard but lost the game by only two runs. The final score was 3-1. 

Third year Cameron Kramer was on the mound for six innings with five strike outs and a walk.

Fourth year Zach Watzka took over the mound and struck out back-to-back batters before fellow fourth year Justin Firpo finished the game with three strike outs and gave up only one run. 

Four of the boys had hits and the team had one error, whereas Seton Hill had nine hits and two errors.

The Ashland University match up got cancelled due to a rain out before the team continued the last two games of the series.

Against Florida Tech, the Warriors almost dug out of an early hole when Weiland got a home run at the top of the eighth to put the team at 7-9 for a two-point loss. 

 The Panthers scored four times in the bottom of the first with the Warriors not getting their first run until the second when first year Miller Wallace batted Cooper Kapanke into homeplate.

Trocke and Herbst also drove in runs to score Wallace and Hawksford. Weiland then scored a two-run home run to continue the cat-and-mouse matchup. 

On the mound, Strack, Watzka, Breske and Firpo all pitched throughout the game for only eight hits for Florida Tech. 

For the final game before Winona State headed back to Minnesota, the team played University of Sciences where first year Trocke got his first collegiate home run. 

“It felt awesome,” Trocke said. “I hit it and it was super high; I honestly thought it was going to be a little too high, but yeah, it was great. I got back into the dugout. I got the silent treatment. I don’t know if that’s a tradition here at Winona State, when a guy hits their first home run.”

The first year also had a single that scored Hawksford, causing Winona State to move 2-0. He led the team for the day as his first season shows promise for the years to come. 

“I went into the dugout and nobody said one word to me, everybody pretended like nothing happened,” Trocke continued. “But then like two minutes later everybody went crazy. So, you don’t really know how to react when you just hit a home run and nobody says anything.”

The team finished with a win 3-0 against USciences before heading back for conference play with Kyle Gendron making his first start of the season as a pitcher.

The team currently sits at 2-9 without any conference games so far with hopes to improve.

“No matter like if this is your first year, your fifth year, you step on the fields, you have the same job to do,” Hawksford said. “We’re all college players.”

Unfortunately, the first NSIC games were cancelled due to field conditions, but the team is scheduled to play St. Cloud State University on Thursday, March 24.