No one expects beautiful weather in Erie during college baseball season, but the weather this spring has certainly proven worse than expected.
“This is easily the worst weather we have had since I’ve been here, and that’s 14 years,” coach Joe Spano said.
Despite the weather, the Mercyhurst baseball team has played quite well. The team got off to an exceptionally hot start, opening the season with an 11-3 record. Coincidentally, these 14 games were played in the sunny locales of Florida and North Carolina.
The Lakers were 13-3 before they had to play in the rough Erie weather.
The team managed to go only 8-6 over its next 14 games, including 6-6 in the tough PSAC West.
“This has been an exciting season because everyone is having their best year in the PSAC,” Spano said.
With the PSAC playoffs only a few weeks away, conference games are extremely important down the stretch. The team won’t know who is in and out of the playoffs until the last day of the season, with only five games separating first and last place.
“With four of the final six games being doubleheaders, we need to stay focused mentally,” Spano said.
To date, the team is 31-9 overall and is rolling on a 10-game winning streak. Chemistry plays a major role in any deep playoff run.
“We gel together a lot more than last year, and everyone is behind each other both on and off the field,” junior pitcher Erik Aschley said.
Behind Aschley, who holds a 6-1 overall record, and Nick Gillung, 7-2, the Lakers have had outstanding pitching to this point. Offensively, senior Kevin McCall and junior Shane Latshaw have been excellent all season long.
This is the seniors’ last run at a championship.
“We have a light atmosphere, we like to have fun but we stay focused,” said senior pitcher Thurman Schaetzle. “These last few games are all winnable, and that will help us have momentum going forward.”
The Lakers certainly have momentum; note the 10-game winning streak. But postseason success is a whole different demon.
The Lakers aren’t looking too far ahead just yet, with six still to play. The team can make it 11 or 12 straight wins in Friday’s home doubleheader against Slippery Rock.
“This is our last chance to do something. We have the talent for a national championship,” said Schaetzle, son of the football team’s coach. “Look at football. They got (conference) rings, and I want one for myself.”