by Reese Williams
The Spartans started off the season with their first three games at Steinbrenner field, home of the Tampa Tarpons and New York Yankees spring training facility. The Spartans lost their first two games of the series with a score of 6-2 in the first game and 9-6 in the second. The team rallied for the final game ending with a score of 11-5.
“Our goal is always to win a National Championship,” said Head Coach Joe Urso. “If you want to be remembered as a great team at UT it’s always about ‘did you win a National Championship.’
UT starts the season ranked as the number two team in Division II baseball. After a disappointing end to last season, Urso and his players have their sights set on redeeming themselves at this year’s National Championship.
The first game of the opening series was played against the Lander Bearcats, in which the Spartans lost 6-2. The starter on the mound for the Spartans was pitcher Keven Pimentel. Pimentel went five innings, allowing six hits, two earned runs, five strikeouts, and no walks. Alec Aleywine, a transfer from Gulf Coast State College had a productive day at the plate in his first game as a Spartan going 2-4 with a double and a RBI triple while also scoring a run himself.
In the second game of the opening series, the Spartans played the number 19 team l, the Mount Olive Trojans. After a back and forth game the Spartans ended up losing the match 9-6. Starting pitcher Tanner Foster went five shutout innings, allowing five hits, two walks, and striking out four batters. Nick Derr, third baseman, would end up being the best hitter for the Spartans in this game going three for five, with two singles and a double, while driving in two runs and also scoring a run himself.
In the third and final game of the series, the Spartans matched up against the North Greenville Crusaders. In a high-powered offensive game the Spartans were victorious by a score of 11-5. Starting pitcher Mason Duke would pick up the win on the mound after going 6.0 innings, allowing five hits, four runs (one of which was an earned run), 1 walk, and striking out 4 batters. The power was definitely on display in this game with both Alec Aleywine and Danny Maynard combining for four homeruns (two each).
“I’m really proud of how the team all came together today and bounced back to get this important win,” said Aleywine, junior first baseman. “It felt really great.”
The Spartans record is now 1-2 on the season as they prepare to head to Milledgeville, Georgia to take on Georgia College in a 4-game series from Feb. 8-10.
One of the biggest challenges this year to reaching that goal will be the addition of the “Super Regional” to Division II baseball. The “Super Regional” adds an extra series on the way to winning a National Championship and has been a main state in Division I baseball for years.
“I’ve got mixed emotions about the Super regionals being added this year,” said Athletic Director Larry Marfise. “It adds another week to the season and we are dealing with college student-athletes here. The positive thing though is that it is only going to be two teams. This helps because the staff and team are already going to be here so it puts less stress on everybody.”
Reese Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.