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Campus News

March 29th, 2022

Lakers gaining early season experience

GC baseball features 23 first-year players, including 18 freshmen

When you have 23 first-year players on a 32-man roster, there are going to be some bumps in the road.

There are also going to be moments when things start to click.

Eric Hallenbeck has seen both the highs and the lows from this year’s Garrett College baseball team. The lows include a 1-9 start and an 0-6 record in games decided by 2 runs or less. The potential, however, was evident in a 4-game winning streak at the end of the Lakers’ Myrtle Beach spring trip.

"It was good to win the last four games in Myrtle ," said Hallenbeck, whose Lakers went 5-8 in Myrtle Beach. "We were in every game except two – Rochester and Mercer – on the trip."

GC (5-13) saw its share of heartbreaking losses on the Myrtle Beach trip.

An out away from beating Salem Community College, the Lakers committed 3 seventh-inning errors as an 8-6 lead became a 10-8 defeat. Bergen Community College scored 4 runs on 4 wild pitches in a 4-run second inning and held off the Lakers, 5-4. And the Lakers also lost close games in which either the potential tying or go-ahead runs were picked off base.

"We have to stop making mistakes in key moments of games," said Hallenbeck. "It seems like every time we make a mistake it costs us 2 runs or more – and every time the other team makes a mistake, we can’t capitalize on it.

"Because we have so many new guys, it seems like we are waiting for someone else to make a play or come up with a big hit," added Hallenbeck.

The tough losses continued when the Lakers came back north, with 1-run losses to both Chesapeake College and CCBC-Dundalk as part of doubleheader sweeps last weekend. The Chesapeake loss was the toughest given how the Lakers erased a 5-0 deficit with a 6-run sixth only to drop a 7-6 decision as the Skipjacks pushed across runs in the sixth and seventh frames.

The Lakers – ahead 6-5 with the bases still loaded in the sixth inning – just missed breaking the Chesapeake game wide open with cleanup hitter Chance Moore at the plate with two outs.

"Chance laced a ball in the left-center gap – it would have been a home run in any other park in the conference," said Hallenbeck. "Their left fielder ends up catching the ball on his back to end the inning and save 3 runs."

While the team is struggling from a won-loss perspective, numerous Lakers are off to hot individual starts. No one’s hotter than sophomore Brandon Lucas (Southern Garrett High), who’s hitting .346 with 5 doubles, 3 home runs, and 16 RBIs. Sophomore Tim Hanible is hitting .321 with 3 triples and 10 stolen bases, and transfer Joey DeSiena is batting .348 with 11 RBIs so far this season.

Hallenbeck expects improved play from the host of newcomers as they become more comfortable.

"We have some talented players, but they need to adjust to the college game. I think we will do that – I just hope it’s not so late that we don’t make the playoffs," said Hallenbeck, whose team is currently 0-5 in the NJCAA Division II Region XX standings.