By Jacob Rzempoluch, News Editor
Senior day is always an excellent opportunity to recognize the contributions of a class of Bearcats.
“Every senior has had an impact on me during my time at SVC,” Billy Perroz, junior computer science major, said. “Even though I am one year behind them, I still see every single one as mentors and leaders. They each have taught me how to be a leader and a team player, and I am going to miss being on the field with them when they are gone.”
“This year’s seniors have been through a lot, both good and bad, on and off the field,” Head Coach Mick Janosko said. “It’s those experiences that you can learn from to help overcome tough circumstances down the road, whether it’s in a game, a job, a marriage, or life in general. That to me is what athletics is all about. It teaches you how to deal with adversity, and, in my opinion, this group of seniors have done an outstanding job of handling that adversity.”
What makes senior day better is a strong showing against a conference rival to continue a winning streak. On April 14, the Bearcat baseball team put up an outstanding performance against the Westminster Titans to make the senior celebrations even more special. Before the series, seniors Jordan Sabol, business data analytics major; Aaron Stephan, early childhood major; Zack VonStein, business data analytics major; and Cameron Hyde, accounting major, were recognized and given a SVC bat.
SVC began the first game of the doubleheader strong, with a first inning single from Perroz sending undeclared freshman Dylan Schmude home before Sabol batted Schmude in. The score remained 2-0 until sophomore business administration major Dalton Nicklow’s triple brought sophomore communication major Devin Bonine home in the bottom of the sixth. Westminster then went on a tear, scoring 7 unanswered runs to build a 4-run lead in the eighth. The Titans walked junior mechanical engineering major Alex Hess and Schmude with the bases loaded to allow sophomore business data analytics major Derek Hald and Bonine to score. It would come down to the ninth inning for the Bearcats.
Westminster did not score in the top of the ninth, keeping the score at 5-7. Perroz immediately smashed a homer to bring the Bearcats closer to the Titans. Sabol was walked and a Westminster fielding error on the next at-bat allowed Bonine to get on base. Junior psychology major J’Shawn Taylor was sent out to pinch run for Bonine, with two outs remaining. Another error with Nichlow on the plate sent the ball all the way into the bullpen, giving Sabol and Taylor the chance to round the bases for the victory. The Bearcats celebrated at the plate, and reliever Stephan earned the win after pitching the scoreless ninth inning.
About 30 minutes later, the Bearcats and the Titans began their second game. It would be a much less eventful battle, with only 8 hits between the teams. Perroz recorded an inside-the-park home run in the fourth to be the only Bearcat to score in the 1-0 win. The Bearcat pitchers excelled in this game, with graduate student Michael Klingensmith recording 8 strikeouts and junior health science major and closer Jeremy Kreuzwieser pitching 2 strikeouts and allowing no hits. Kreuzwieser has been one of the finest pitchers in the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) this season. As of writing, his 2.29 earned run average (ERA) ranks third in the PAC while his .195 opponent’s batting average (OBA) leads the conference.
The doubleheader victories bring the Bearcats’ winning streak to 8 games, including 7 straight victories against PAC programs. This places Saint Vincent in fourth in the conference (as of April 19) as the end of the regular season approaches.
“We have really come together on all facets of the game during this streak,” Sabol said. “Game after game, we are getting solid performances from our pitchers and the bats have come alive at the right time.”
“I think that the players believe in one another and what they can accomplish as a team,” Janosko said. “Pitching and good defense has been a strength for us so far this season. We are a little deeper on the mound this spring than we have been in the past… anytime you get good pitching and good defense, you give yourself a chance to win games.”
The Bearcats’ defense has certainly held up against the rest of the conference so far. The team’s .969 fielding percentage leads the PAC. First baseman Billy Perroz also has been one of the key parts of the Bearcat squad this season. Perroz was recognized as PAC Hitter of the Week and Bearcat of the Week for his performance against the Chatham Cougars and Westminster, with 3 home runs, 5 runs batted in (RBI) and a .563 batting average. As of writing, his .442 batting average ranks second in the PAC while he leads the conference in hits (46), homeruns (6), RBIs (31) and slugging percentage (.760%).
While the Bearcats faced some midseason challenges, they are now in a great position for a strong postseason run.
“Obviously our goal is to win the PAC championship,” Perroz said. “But you have to break it down to being a better player every day. Our team motto is to get better every day, so whether it is at practice or in a game, learn and grow from mistakes and each other to make yourself better. These smaller goals will help us achieve our main goal.”
The Bearcats will fight for the best possible outcome for the season. Until the season ends, they will continue to create memories of playing a game they love.
“I have had countless memories in my four years here at Saint Vincent (College),” Sabol said. “It has been a blessing to be a part of this team for four years. I will definitely cherish the friendships and experiences I had at Saint Vincent (College) for the rest of my life.”