After finishing 1-2 during opening weekend, the Truman State baseball team continued its non-conference play with a road trip to the eastern side of the GLVC. Truman began and ended the road trip at the University of Southern Indiana and used Saturday to make the short trip to St. Joseph’s College for a Saturday face-off.
The weekend in Indiana began with a meeting against the No. 23 Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles. The game featured a matchup between the previous two Midwest Region Champions, with Truman owning the 2015 title and Southern Indiana claiming the championship during 2014.
Head Coach Dan Davis says the team was aware of the talent it would be facing early during the year and says his players met the challenge enthusiastically. Davis says his team strives to be one of the best in the country, so the players look forward to playing some of the country’s top competition. He says he thinks a historic program such as USI was a great challenge for his team, and the high level of competition did not disappoint.
During the game, Truman faced a deficit against the Screaming Eagles of 7 runs. After establishing a 4-2 lead during the third, the tables turned with Truman falling behind 13-6 after four innings. The ‘Dogs scored three during the sixth inning, and two during the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game at 13 runs each. The game, which took more than four hours, eventually required additional innings and the Screaming Eagles claimed a 14-13 victory during the bottom of the 11th. The game featured 27 runs scored, 33 hits and 10 different pitchers. Although the ‘Dogs almost overcame the seven-run difference, the Bulldogs stranded baserunners and committed five errors on the field.
Davis says limiting errors and sharpening play on defense could be the difference for the Bulldogs during close games like the one against USI. Davis says not being able to get outside to practice has been hard on the defensive aspect of Truman’s game, but he says he thinks his team is getting more comfortable and showing a little more improvement every game.
Junior infielder Nick Agliolo led the Bulldogs Friday by posting a four-hit afternoon, while freshman outfielder Mason King added 2 hits, 2 RBIs and 3 runs. With King and Agliolo, who is a transfer, Davis says the team has been grateful to get production from new faces this season. Davis says he thinks they, along with the other newcomers, have done a great job adjusting to the team.
“Our biggest thing when we go out recruiting is that we look for guys who play the game the way we want them to and fit into the mold of what we think is a Bulldog baseball player,” Davis says. “It’s easy for them to blend right in with our program, and we’ve been really lucky to get the right guys who have been able to do that. It’s fun to watch.”
There was no time to dwell on Friday’s loss because Truman moved on to Rensselaer, Indiana, for a Saturday afternoon match against the St. Joseph’s Pumas.
Another slow start put the Bulldogs behind, and the ‘Dogs spent most of the afternoon playing catch-up. Truman trailed almost the entire game, falling behind 4-0 after the sixth inning and 9-4 after 6 innings. Truman didn’t score a run until the seventh inning.
The rally began with King’s base hit, followed by an RBI from Agliolo. Junior outfielder David Gambino then scored Agoliolo and led the way for the rest of the Bulldog lineup. Junior catcher Jason Priest, sophomore first baseman Brendan Trimble, and senior third baseman Chris Iliopoulos closed the inning with base hits and two more runs, which pulled the ‘Dogs within one, trailing 9-8 heading into the eighth. The Pumas did not score another run for the remainder of the game and the top of the Truman lineup notched three more runs. Sophomore pitcher Alex Hoffman closed the game, earning his first win of the year.
This marked the third straight game Truman has fallen behind by more than five runs, but caught back up.
Bulldog baseball now is preparing for their home-opener and doubleheader against Bemidji State University Friday. After opening with seven road games, the ‘Dogs have the opportunity to play 10 straight games at Bulldog Baseball Park in front of a home crowd, with their Kirksville debut.
To read the full story about the baseball team’s comeback victory, pick up a copy of the Index or click here to read online on Issuu.