Story by Jackson Moore, Reporter
The Aquinas College baseball team started their 2022 spring season with a cross country trip to Alabama to face Grace College in a four-game series played on Friday, Feb 11, and Saturday, Feb 12. This series marks the first time the team has played outside for four months, dating back to last semester’s fall season.
The 13 hour bus ride was something many thought would play a factor in how the team would perform during the trip, but Aquinas quickly put those worries to rest as they won the first game by a score of 9-6.
“The ride was long, but it wasn’t too bad playing afterwards because we got to stop in Nashville, which was awesome,” said Dane Smitz, 2nd baseman. “We had a nice team lunch and got to wander around a bit. Splitting a trip like that over two days is definitely the way to go.”
Smitz certainly showed no fatigue after a long ride as he was an influential component to the hot start on Friday. In the 9-6 victory, the junior boasted a 100 percent batting average and scored two runs for the Saints.
“I felt ready for the game because the coaches and the guys have been practicing really hard,” Smitz said. “We were all excited for this opportunity to get outside again and start the season off on the right foot. The team played a great game and I was happy to play my role in what was ultimately a solid team win.”
The Saints continued their hot run of form by blowing Grace College out in eight innings by a score of 13-3.
“We hit really well in those first two games,” Smitz said. “I think everyone was on top of their game. We got the bats going early and everything stemmed from there. It was a great start to the trip.”
However, despite the hot start, Grace College would storm back the following day, winning the first game by a decisive 17-0 margin.
“The first game of the day was rough,” Smitz said. “I think everyone was riding high from the day before and we were feeling really good. Sometimes when things seem to be clicking really well, games like that can happen.”
The second game of the day (and fourth of the series) would see Grace tie in a nail biting 8-6 win after being down to Aquinas early.
“The second game was a really good bounce back response,” Smitz said. “We just fell a little bit short in the end. Overall, the games we played were really solid and considering we play around 50 games a season and that was our first time outside in months, I think it was a very positive weekend.”
Smitz and the Saints are back in action against Saint Xavier on Feb 26, as they look to improve upon the solid foundation showcased in the games played in Alabama.