Northwest baseball reinvented itself this weekend as it got its three phases of the game to work in unison in the three-game sweep of Southwest Baptist.
The Bearcats bested their opponents in Southwest Baptist as the Northwest pitching staff continued to better itself on the season.
The Bearcats (9-10, 5-4 MIAA) began their first MIAA stretch in a less than ideal setting as they were swept by Central Oklahoma. These games against the Bronchos were lopsided and left Northwest with questions about its progress.
Those questions were quickly thrown by the wayside when the Bearcats performed on another level of intensity against Southwest Baptist (8-11, 3-6 MIAA). They battled every game and took home a clean sweep by only a three-run differential. Each phase of their game competed and strived for something more in the successful weekend.
“Going down to Southwest Baptist, playing on the road again… coming off a three-game loss to Central Oklahoma, I’m really glad how our guys responded,” coach Darin Loe said. “Being able to compete out of the gate and do it in all phases…I’m proud of our guys and how they performed.”
No phase of the game achieved more than Northwest’s pitching staff over the weekend. Though Game 1 (9-8) and Game 2 (8-7) were more on the high scoring side, Game 3 set a ton for the level of play the Bearcats are capable of.
The momentum was helped by sophomore starting pitcher Max Spitzmiller, who cornered Southwest Baptist with his ability to throw strikes. Game 3 saw a 2-1 victory in favor of Northwest as Spitzmiller went seven innings, giving up one run, all while adding seven strikeouts to his stat sheet.
“Going out to the mound and helping my team win was a great feeling,” Spitzmiller said. “Getting ahead in counts and filling up the zone helped allow for us to put the other team in a position to be defensive and have our defense make plays.”
Even with mixed results, the Bearcat pitching staff has increasingly established itself as a capable weapon in the Northwest arsenal. This is built by the player's abilities to provide mental help for one another. Each guy handles their own responsibilities, but ultimately they all come together to help each other in those responsibilities.
Another key figure to establishing this unit is senior Trevor Dudar. Dudar is the closer for the Bearcats and over the weekend he carved his name into Northwest history. After a three-save weekend, he broke the school record for career saves which sat at 17. Dudar, now with 18 saves, is not only important to Northwest history but important to leading a young core of pitchers to success.
“Last year we had the pitching and the bullpen to get to him better… this year at least up and till that point, we weren’t getting that great starting pitching, so it was a tough time getting to him,” Loe said. “So we asked him to go a little bit longer down in Northeastern, Oklahoma, it hurt his ERA, but he’s a true team guy.”
The weekend for the Bearcats not only improved their record but established a momentum swing in the midst of an MIAA-heavy schedule. All three of the games were decided by one run and to go along with that fact, all three were come-from-behind victories.
Though they will have to delay their home opener once again as the game against Avila, scheduled for Tuesday, was canceled, they still hold this momentum true. Now, the next game on their schedule will be a trip to Pittsburg, Kansas, to face off against the Gorillas March 15-17.
“I think we will look to take the momentum gathered from this past weekend and put it to use with a good week of practice and our next series against Pitt State,” Spitzmiller said. “Our goal is to win as many games as possible, and I will do whatever I can to help that.”