The count is one ball, two strikes. First baseman senior Andrew Horick is at the plate. The score is 5-3, with B-CC leading in the bottom of the seventh inning. The pitch is thrown and is a called strike. The game is over, Horick slams his helmet, and subsequently, the door is slammed on the Wildcats’ baseball season. The historic 2016 season is history. Outfielder and senior Ben Lake was watching from the bench as the third strike was called.
“[The pitch] looked very low,” Lake said.
However, the umpire saw it differently, and after the final strike was called it took Lake a few moments to comprehend what had just happened.
“I was somewhat shocked,” Lake said. “First of all that he called it a strike and also shocked that it was over just like that.”
The umpires were not the only reason the team lost. Junior Leo Bucello, who pitched in the game, believed the team didn’t play to their full potential and that they should have played better offensively.
“We didn’t hit,” Bucello said. “We had two hits the whole game.”
Even with the lack of hitting, WJ had a chance to tie the game in the last inning. After scoring two runs, it was 5-3 with the tying run at the plate. Even before those two runs were scored Lake was very confident that the team would come back.
“I knew we were a clutch team, we’ve [come back] many times,” Lake said. “I had the expectation that we were gonna come back, at least tie it up, go into extra innings or win.”
However, that was not the case and instead of looking forward to potentially the next inning or their next opponent in the playoffs, they shifted their focus to next season. Sophomore and second baseman Kyle Petersen has high hopes for next season and lauded many of the rising seniors on the team. However, he indicated that they would need to separate themselves if they were to have an even better season.
“All the…rising juniors and rising seniors are gonna have to mature,” Petersen said.
Petersen is also concerned with the lack of depth in their pitching rotation going into next season due to the departure of some of the current seniors who were pitchers. Despite this concern, he is very confident that the team will be able overcome this obstacle.
“We’ll make it work,” Petersen said.
Petersen was very disappointed that he had to be thinking about next year; he was hoping to continue playing, and hopefully make a deep playoff run. He was especially saddened by the fact that this was the last time he would play with the seniors. When the game ended, reality set in.
“Oh I was pissed; it sucked,” Petersen said. “I had played with all those guys for…the past two years and they…matured me as a player and a teammate.”
Despite Petersen’s concerns about the lack of depth they have for next year, he has a very positive outlook on next season.
“I feel like we’ll have a good season next year and we’re gonna make a deep playoff run,” Petersen said.
Bucello concurred with Petersen that they would go far in the playoffs next year. He also hopes that they could make it to the regional finals.
“We gotta get the team to believe,” Bucello said.