Beavers excited following trip to Florida
Florida trip provides experience for Bluffton baseball team
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
March 12, 2009
During Bluffton University's 2009 Spring Break, the Bluffton baseball team traveled to Sarasota and Port Charlotte, to open the season with 10 games in Florida. This trip solidified the pitching rotation and bullpen for the Beavers while giving the team a better look at various lineups. The experience gained in Florida will be essential to the future success of the Bluffton baseball program.
The Beavers started 3-1 in Sarasota, including a two-game sweep against a fellow Mennonite institution, Eastern Mennonite University, on Monday, March 2. "We played really well against EMU," explained Head Coach James Grandey. During the first contest, the Beavers were victorious, 9-0, with nine hits. Freshman starter Ryan Leugers (Botkins) pitched all seven innings in game two of the double header and he limited the Royals to only two walks and two runs on four hits while firing four strikeouts.
Bluffton finished off the week winning two of its last three games, including a tough contest with Coach Grandey's alma mater, Muskingum. The Beavers pulled out the win, 7-6, after plating four runs in the seventh inning. Cody McPherson (Northwood/Millbury Lake) started the game on the hill and he led the Bluffton offense as well, going 4-for-4 at the dish. Tyler Stephenson (Springfield/Northwestern), who picked up the win in relief, limited the Muskies to two hits and a run before senior Corey Conn (London) came on and secured the victory with his first save of the year.
The other big Bluffton win was a 14-3 shellacking of John Jay before the Beavers departed for Ohio on Saturday. Senior Matt Perkins (Convoy/Crestview) took control on the mound with the victory, and for his performance he was named Pitcher of the Week in the HCAC. Freshman Aaron Koonce (Toledo/Start) went 2-of-2 with two runs scored and two RBI. Allen Slabaugh (Dalton), Stephen Torres (Lima/Juan Diego) and Nick Broyles (Toledo/Whitmer) all rapped three hits in the victory with Torres scoring three times.
Grandey, who was pleased about the trip, exclaimed, "Our time in Florida has made us excited about the rest of our season. This experience has given us the opportunity to solidify our pitching rotation and bullpen." He went on to say that, "The games in Florida, as well as the other non-conference contests slated for the 2009 season will prepare us physically and mentally for the Heartland Conference."
With the experience gained from 10 games over a span of seven days, the 2009 Bluffton baseball team is ready to make an impact on the always-tough HCAC. The players are working hard every day to better themselves for the challenges they will face, and Florida has given them the chance to prove themselves heading into the Ohio portion of the schedule. Following Bluffton's loss to Muskingum in Chillicothe on Wednesday, March 11, the Beavers are preparing for their 2009 home opener against Davenport on Saturday, March 14. The first game is slated for 2 p.m.