Cougars open baseball season in Fort Myers
The University of Minnesota, Morris baseball team opened the season with the annual spring trip, this year playing eight games in Fort Myers, Fla.
The Cougars went 1-7 on the five-day trip, splitting a double header with Wisconsin Lutheran on the first day, before dropping several close games over the rest of the trip.
The Cougars were led by sophomore Drew Lundquist, who finished with a team-high 13 hits, batting over .400 on the trip.
Dustin Sauter, a Morris Area High School graduate, also finished among the leaders at the plate, and was the only player to hit safely in each game for an eight-game hitting streak.
Ian Olson was the leading run-producer as he knocked in a team-high nine RBI on his eight hits. Sauter was also among the RBI leaders, finishing with six.
Logan Orazem logged the Cougars' first win, and currently sits at 1-0 in his three appearances. Lee Arvold pitched a team-high 10.0 innings in his two starts and sits second on the team with a 2.70 ERA. The team ERA leader is Nick Perrotte who owns a 2.25 mark in 8.0 innings of work.
Wis. Lutheran 5
The Cougars' opened the trip on Mar. 14 with a tough 5-4 loss to Wisconsin Lutheran, suffering the defeat in the bottom of the eighth. Morris tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh and held WLC scoreless in the bottom of the inning to force the extra frame. The Cougars were then held off the board in the eighth, and Wisconsin Lutheran won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth.
Wis. Lutheran 15
In the next game, the Cougars took a 5-4 lead with a five-run third, and then took a 12-9 lead after a seven-run fifth. Wisconsin Lutheran came back to tie everything up with a three-run rally in the top of the seventh, forcing the Cougars to win it in the bottom of the inning. Sauter walked to lead off the inning and Lundquist followed up with a single to put runners on first and second with Olson coming to the plate. He did not disappoint, banging out a walk-off three-run homerun for the 15-12 win.
In the Cougars' first game on Mar. 15, they were shut out in a 5-0 loss to Lakeland College. They did collect six hits, including a 2-for-4 day from Lundquist. Lakeland never got more than one run in an inning, scoring once each in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth. Jake Johnson started and allowed four runs in the loss.
Later on Mar. 15, the Cougars dropped a close 4-2 game with Nichols College. Perrotte started and pitched 8.0 innings, allowing all four runs, but only two earned, while striking out seven in the loss. After a 1-1 first, Nichols took a 4-1 lead in the fourth, with the Cougars taking one back in the fifth. However, the 4-2 score would stick, as Nichols capitalized on five Cougar errors.
After a day off, the Cougars lost to open Mar. 17. Against Lasell, Morris lost 8-7 on a walk-off in the seventh. In the first game of a doubleheader, the Cougars led 7-3 after four innings. Lasell inched their way back in with two runs in each the fifth and sixth innings, sitting tied at 7-all heading into the seventh. The Cougars were held hitless in the seventh, and Lasell capitalized with a double and single through the left side in the bottom of the inning for the win.
The second half of the double header was all offense, as Lasell finished the sweep with a 16-11 win. The Cougars found themselves down 7-0 after just two, but cut the deficit to 7-3 in the third. Heading into the bottom of the seventh they trailed 16-4, but put together their best rally of the game, plating seven runners before Lasell finally got the third out. All seven runs came before the second out, and after a pitching change the final two batters popped out to end the game.
On the final day of the trip, the Cougars took the field for a doubleheader with Skidmore College on Mar. 18. Despite 10 hits in the first game, they dropped an 11-3 decision, scoring all three runs in the fifth. Austin Pinke, Josh Ledin, Lundquist, and Perrotte all had two hits in the game.
Then in the trip finale, a three-run seventh was not enough in a 7-4 loss. Skidmore effectively put the game away with a four-run sixth, doing so on just three hits. Ledin and Sauter led the way for the Cougars with two runs each, also accounting for three of Morris' four runs.