Head Coach Chris Francis, who has worked with the baseball team for three seasons, and his assistant Thomas Seay were looking to build off of last season’s 18-15 record. However, the VWC Baseball team fell twice to North Carolina Wesleyan on Saturday and once to Salisbury University on Sunday.
The Marlins competed in two close games that each resulted in extra innings. Led offensively by Justin Erby and Randy Neisz, who both homered in Game 2, the Marlins were unable to pull out the win after a late 10th inning grand slam allowed the N.C. Wesleyan Bishops to walk off with the win.
On Sunday, the Marlins started the game with high intensity. They scored two runs in the first inning off a Neisz home run and one in the second, allowing them to gain a 3-0 lead. Freshman pitcher Patrick Monteverde only allowed four runs in 8.2 innings.
“Starting my first college game is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and to pitch in a game like that just makes it even better,” Monteverde said.
Not even the continuous effort from Monteverde could lead his team to victory, and the early lead slated by the Marlins did not last long. Salisbury was able to come back and tie the game in the fourth and sixth innings, only to take the lead in the top of the ninth while the Marlins failed to respond offensively. The entire team, including freshman pitcher and senior outfielder Justin Erby, fought hard to bring home an opening season win but sadly had to begin their season down with a 0-3 record.
Senior Justin Erby remains hopeful despite the losses faced.
“The team will use these losses as a learning experience for later in the season, and will allow them to trust in the process, enabling them to transition from not just a good team but a great one,” Erby said.
Prior to this weekend’s games, Coach Seay described his goals for the season as “continuing to get better every day.”
Seay explained that the Marlins were expecting large impacts from a wide variety of players on the field, ranging from stellar returners all the way to the rookies and transfers of the program this season. Seay plans to start and maintain high expectations for the five all-conference players, Justin and Taylor Erby, Brandon Kussmaul, Randy Neisz and C.J. Lindsay.
“Their experience offensively will carry them throughout the first month of the year, allowing the young guys to get the experience and repetition they needed,” Seay said.
North Carolina Wesleyan ranks No. 6 in the USA South Conference preseason poll, and Salisbury University ranks No. 1 in the Capital Athletic Conference preseason poll and No. 24 in the nation according to D3Baseball.com.
Seay approached these facts by looking at the weekend as a learning experience for his team.
“It will be a good test for them this opening weekend…the schedule is so strong this year. We play five teams that are ranked among the top twenty-five in the preseason poll. We have one of the toughest schedules in the Southern Region,” Seay said.
(Photo: Anthony Dellamura | Marlin Chronicle)