Seventh inning stretch

As the men’s baseball season reaches its halfway point, the Britons are gearing up for second-half conference play against fellow MIAA opponents.

According to Kyle O’Keefe, Ypsilanti senior and outfielder, competing in the MIAA conference requires a strong amount of team stamina.

“To win the league title this year, we are going to have to be able to sweep teams and can’t lose games that we should win,” O’Keefe said. “The way we are going to have to do that is to put teams away in the earlier innings so that it is not close going into the later innings.”

Putting teams away early is something the Brits have been inconsistent with so far this season both in MIAA action and in non-conference.

In their first game of the season against Aurora University, Fl the Brits went down 5-0 early before losing 6-1.

Just four games later, the Brits jumped out to a 6-0 lead against Colby-Sawyer College and finished off with a 21-11 victory to improve to 2-2 early on.

“In Florida we played a lot of high quality baseball teams that prepared us for our conference games,” said Ryan Reilly, Battle Creek senior and outfielder. “But there is no question that our conference games are our toughest.”

The Brits opened the season with a 4-6 record against non-conference opponents that had them traveling from Florida to Ohio for games.

According to Reilly, the busy travel schedule didn’t bother the players.

“We don’t really care (about all the travelling) because when it’s time to play baseball we’re ready,” Reilly said. “I feel worse for the professors and our coach. We just get the emails telling us whether we are playing or not, but they have to worry about re-scheduling games and exams to fit our crazy schedules.”

The MIAA conference schedule keeps the Brits close to home, as only Trine University is located outside the of Michigan. The Brits opened the MIAA season by splitting a double header with the Adrian Bulldogs at home, losing the first game 3-2 but winning the second game 5-4.

“I would have to say that our biggest strength would have to be the way we have been hitting so far,” O’Keefe said. “I think we are hitting around .320 as a team right now which is probably the best batting average we have posted as a team since I have been here.”

As of press time the Brits are currently 4-8 in MIAA conference play. So far the closest win for the Brits in their MIAA schedule was their 4-3 victory on the road against Alma College.

The Brits were able to jump out to a 3-0 lead, but Alma rallied back before Ryan Gunderson, Grosse Pointe senior, finished them off for his second win of the season.

Gunderson pitched a complete game and struck out five batters while only surrendering three earned runs.

“Consistency will be the key for us as we move into the second half of the season,” said Scott Carden, head coach. “We need to be able to win the close games by doing the little things right.”

The Brits have eight games remaining, including a doubleheader rematch against Alma on April 22, before the season ends.

According to Reilly, playing complete games will be the key for the Brits to finish the MIAA schedule successfully.

“To win the MIAA you have to show up to play everyday because you have the top teams trying to stay near the top, and the “spoilers” down towards the bottom who love handing the big shots tough losses,” Reilly said. “When we get quality starts out of our pitchers and don’t make errors in the field we usually put ourselves in a great chance to win.”

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