Northwest baseball went from striding to struggling as recent pitching struggles led to a Missouri Western sweep
The Bearcats are a week and a half out from winning six of their last six March 31-April 7, but due to a lack of pitching depth, they have lost their last five.
During the past two weeks, the Bearcats (17-20, 13-11 MIAA) were on a tear sweeping Washburn and Fort Hays. All features of the game were working in their favor, but as they went down to St. Joseph everything proved to work the opposite way.
Going into the Missouri Western series, Northwest was heating up, but right as they headed south, they hit a standstill. The Griffons (17-15, 14-10 MIAA) swept the Bearcats with ease as they outscored the Bearcats 36-19 in the three-game set.
“Missouri Western played very well this past weekend, they were able to compete and put together some good comebacks late in the game,” senior second baseman Mondesi Gutierrez said. “We just need to focus on our preparation and getting ourselves ready to compete every pitch.”
Pitching during the previous seven-game stretch became a strong suit and then progressively became a liability against Missouri Western. Relief pitching was the main culprit of the weekend as the bullpen allowed 22 of the 36 runs to cross the plate.
One of the issues that exist for the pitching staff is allowing big innings compared to sparse scoring of the other team. Coach Darin Loe knows this issue and wants to continue to get that problem out of the way.
“The biggest thing is just trying to minimize big innings. Right now, for whatever reason, we have something bad happen… and it just snowballs on us,” Loe said. “I think we gave up a six-run inning and an eight-run inning at Missouri Western, then at the very end of the weekend, we give up two in each of those, we are 2-1 on the weekend.”
For the Bearcats, they established a need for a mental edge that some of the pitchers are struggling to find.
“The difficult problem is, right now you are constantly playing games with implications on the line that’s why we really try to focus on the process,” Loe said. “Getting wins and loses out of our head and focus on executing our pitches.”
One of the many pitchers facing a midseason slump is senior closer Trevor Dudar. Dudar is the all-time saves leader for the Bearcats but has recently fallen victim to control issues. During this span, Dudar has blown two saves, but Loe only sees this as a minor problem, as he is a quality pitcher facing just a few issues.
“He’s a good arm, he’s a veteran guy, so he’ll get out of the funk,” Loe said. “We’ll be getting him back out there, and I think the biggest thing is just getting him back out there.”
The Bearcats are hoping to clear their minds a little as they look forward to this weekend against the MIAA leader Central Missouri. This trip comes after a 6-4 loss to Washburn April 16.
Nevertheless, Northwest is gearing to get back on track after this regrettable weekend.
“We are looking forward to bouncing back this week,” Gutierrez said. “Getting back to playing the way we are capable of.”