The UD Flyers head south today for their second weekend of warm-weather baseball, hoping their bats warm up, too.
UD Flyer coach Tony Vittorio didn’t return my calls this week. I think I know why.
The Flyers head south this afternoon to Greenville, South Carolina to embark on a three-game series with the Furman Paladins, looking for their first win of the season…and looking to get the bad taste out of their mouths from last weekend’s seasonal debut. They lost three times in three games against the likes of Stony Brook, USC-Upstate, and Kentucky, and came home with the inevitable observation…they need offense.
The pitching, behind a struggling starts by Sam Brunner, Mason Kutroff, and a serviceable performance by transfer Zach Beaver, looked like a work in progress.
The hitting, on the other hand, just looked like work. A team that hit just .248 collectively in 2015, at times looked bound to repeat that ineptness at the plate.
To describe their first three game: It looked a bit like a tossed salad…some pitching, some defense, and some occasional good at bats, but random in their combination.
“We simply have to be more aggressive,” said Vittorio on the bus ride home last Sunday. “We looked at times like we were overmatched and overwhelmed.”
And to be sure, it was early. Teams like South Carolina Upstate and Kentucky have had the advantage of being outside, of acclimating to the weather and competition under blue skies.
But Vittorio and the Flyers are wary of a repeat this weekend against a Furman team that presents another unfamiliar challenge…a team none of the current roster has ever played.
“I’ve personally never played them,” said second baseman Nick Ryan. “Don’t know anything about them. But I expect them to be good.”
“I’d expect them to be a little better than the teams we played this weekend, except maybe Kentucky,” added third baseman Nick Gobert, who had questionably the best hitting debut on the team, clubbing home runs against Stony Brook and Kentucky. “We just have to come back and be ready to play.”
And to the point of Vittorio not returning my calls, you can bet that the Flyers worked on the situational hitting this week, taking advantage of time on the outside synthetic surface at Athletes in Action, in Xenia. There was no time for talk.
The one constant from their opening weekend, outside of an 0-3 record?
Defense! The Flyers made one error during the entire three-game series, and if they can continue that – if Zach Beaver, Sam Brunner, and sophomore Mason Kutroff can turn in better mound numbers in their second time out – they’ll be competitive against 1-2 Furman. If they hit!
It’s as simple as that, and no need for a lot of words of preview for another weekend in the palmetto state. It’s right in front of them, and oh, so obvious. The Flyers have to hit.
“We’re confident we can play better,” said Ryan.
And that’s not a bad start to the weekend!