Bates Baseball: A Team on the Rise

With baseball season coming up, every baseball fan on campus is ready once again to watch the ‘Cats grace Leahey field (and their favorite professional team to play their first game).  I personally have been a baseball fan since I was a toddler, taking in the sights and eating plenty of hoodsie cups at my first Red Sox game at Fenway, so when coming to college, I was excited to be able to go to games regularly.  Last baseball season was such a treat for me- I watched every single home game and streamed all the others that I could. While it ended in a heart-wrenching playoff performance, it was so much fun getting to sit down on the bleachers with friends and watch the team play during the regular season. I sat down with Dan Trulli ‘19, Will Sylvia ‘20, and Captain Alex Simon ‘19 to discuss the previous season, this off-season, and look forward at this upcoming season. Reflecting on last season, the Bobcats finished with a 14-19 record and their second NESCAC playoff appearance in two years.  While the season may have gotten to a slow start with the trip to California in February, the ‘Cats quickly picked up steam and began winning games left and right. Key series were against Trinity and Tufts, who Simon notes are always strong contenders for the championship, as their “playoff hopes always seem to contend on those few games.” Though the playoff hopes are often dependent on Tufts or Trinity, Sylvia comments how the NESCAC creates an environment that’s fun to play in as “while there are teams that typically play a bit better than others, any team can compete with another on any given day.”  

When it came to the postseason though, the three players all agreed on how it didn’t go exactly the way planned.  When asked, Trulli put it aptly saying, “You always obviously want to win the championship and we didn’t last year, we really gave it our all and put our best product on the field every game.  We fell short in that first game against Amherst in extra innings, that was a tough loss but we came back strong against Wesleyan. I think we played well both games, just barely missed the mark but I think now we have that extra playoff experience which is very important.”  As Trulli stated, the ‘Cats played extremely well against Amherst, ending in 12 innings with a devastating 3-2 loss. Simon added on how it’s often hard to move on in the tournament once losing the first game. This is true for any team, as it can be hard to regather the team mentality after that one first loss. The off-season has been spent preparing for this sense of competition that the league brings, with even the players abroad spending time getting ready.  Some like Simon prepped by playing in a summer league, while others such as Sylvia made sure to stay in shape while abroad so he’d be ready for the upcoming season. Players on campus have been emphasizing the tight-knit aspect of the team that is a part of the “Bates baseball experience” while practicing in the Gray Cage as a team. Trulli specifically mentioned the tight-knit aspect of the team as something he wanted to impress onto the new members of the team, as he emphasized how while “at Bates, pretty much everything is a tight knit community. However, when you have your own little microcosm of a community within the baseball team, it helps with team comradery when it gets to the season to spend a lot of time together more, so I think that that should always be a part of the Bates Baseball experience.”  The off-season and beginning of the season is looking like a lot of Gray Cage experience which can be daunting for the upcoming Florida trip, but the team is getting ready to play together and dominate on a field once again.

However, this season looks bright for the ‘Cats despite losing the majority of the key line up, as the coaching staff filled many of the spots with new players and leadership.  The captains for this year are Alex Simon ‘19 and Jack Arend ‘20, two players who were standout performers the last season and who promise to be great leadership for the team this year.  Simon commends his fellow captain, stating how despite being a junior, Jack has been a consistent leader on the field as catcher, and commented on how beneficial it will be to have a returning captain for the team. One notable addition is a transfer, Christian Beal ‘21, from Miami of Ohio, who the team looks to be a consistent and heavy hitter to replace players such as Connor Divincenzo ‘18 and Asher MacDonald ‘18.  Though Beal shows promise to be a star for the Bobcats, Trulli notes how Coach Martin did a spectacular job recruiting as he’d “say all of the pitchers have really impressed me and all of the hitters have impressed me. They all really have talent, and that’s something that there is not really a divide, or a guy who isn’t as talented on one end.” Sylvia adds how it isn’t just the recruits who are ready to step up to the plate, saying how the entire team is hungry for playing time and who will be competing for these main spots in the lineup. While all spots are filled up by talented pitchers, one missing aspect is the signature funky style of side-arm pitching that Bates has been known to have through graduated senior, Connor Speed ‘18.  Trulli laughed when asked if any of the incoming pitchers had the same style, saying how “we’re missing out with Speed this year, he was our last funky guy!”

While we’re missing the bleach-haired side arm pitcher and several other reliable players this year, the team truly believes that this year could be the Bobcats win the championship.  Sylvia notes that “we have always had the pitching, but I think this year we will find our identity on the offense side of things. When everything is going at once, I think we can be dangerous.”   Keep an eye out for the ‘Cats this year, and make sure to show up to a game at Leahey field.