Jack Lynch runs down the 3rd baseline as he scores against CSU Bakersfield. GOJASPERS/COURTESY
By Brooke DellaRocco, Staff Writer
With a slow start to the season, Manhattan College’s men’s baseball team slid into Sunday’s game against CSU Bakersfield with the hopes to win. After a hard fought game, the Jaspers were able to relish in their victory of 5-4: the first win of the season, with standouts Jack Lynch and Oliver Pudvar.
Even though the Jaspers lost the series over the span of the weekend, on Feb. 26, MC took the field against CSU Bakersfield and exhibited an impressive force of defense and offense, including two major strikeouts in the second inning, keeping the score at a steady 0-0.
The team came out swinging in the third inning, with Lynch providing the first RBI of the game for Pete Duroucher and himself to score, bringing the game to a 2-0 lead. Nick Plue was the next to score after Zahan Meyer singled to left field, allowing an opening for Plue to advance from second.
Coach Dave Miller, who is currently in the beginning of his first season with MC, expressed his faith in his team to overcome any obstacle that comes their way. He spoke of the capacity of the mental game of sports, and how once the team starts tapping into that, they will continue to win.
“It’s being mentally prepared, physically prepared, just like it is anything else in life,” Miller said. “The more I can keep these guys positive and upbeat and the more I can keep them from getting down on themselves because they had one bad day, or two bad days or three bad days. It’s just a crazy thing. For me, the mental aspect of sports is insane.”
The top of the 6th started off with some decent defense from CSU, not allowing MC to score. As soon as CSU took the plate, they were able to push back, scoring an additional 3 runs and tying the game up. With 3-3 score, Manhattan inched along into the seventh inning and placed their faith in freshman pitcher Pudvar, to provide the win.
The top of the 7th inning was telling for the MC offense, where Meyer was hit by a pitch which advanced him to 1st, and following Meyer, Lynch scored a homerun out to right field, clicking the score to 5-3.
Lynch is a 6th year, who transferred from Ithaca College in 2022, making this his second season with the team. An obvious strong leader, Coach Miller described Lynch as the “glue to MC’s offense,” and Lynch spoke on how he prepares for the amount of pressure he is under.
“I kind of understand the pressure of being that guy that is going to try to produce and help the team win,” Lynch said. “So I try to keep it simple, like when I bat third or fourth, I know my job is to do damage and score runs. So I just try to be patient, wait for my pitch. And when I get it, you know, don’t miss it.”
During an interview, Pudvar commented on the driving reasons that allowed MC to perform so well, after losing to CSU previously in the weekend.
“I think we brought a lot of energy on Sunday, because I think that on Saturday we saw that they were definitely a beatable team,” Pudvar said. “We had a lot of energy in the dugout and then Jack Lynch hit a two run home run absolute shot. And so after that, once we got the lead 5-3, we felt like we were in control of the game and that we should win the game.”
Miller described how the team’s attitude changed during this game compared to the other’s surrounding the weekend.
“I definitely think there was a little more pep in their step,” Miller said. “I had a little pregame meeting with them and you know, I think after starting 0-5, you can tell that the team was starting to put a little pressure on themselves…..You can tell when we got out to an early lead, the kids were really starting to feel it. The dugout was energetic.”
CSU scored their last run of the game in the bottom of the 7th, thanks to an impressive pitching performance from Pudvar who achieved a rare eight-out save to hold off the opposing team, and overcame a two-out bases-loaded scenario in the ninth. This provided Coach Miller and the Jaspers with the first win of the season.
“At first there were two guys on [base] and I ended up hitting a batter,” Pudvar said. “Once the bases were loaded, there was a little bit of nerves for sure. I just trusted my pitches, trusted my coach for calling the pitches, and got a ground ball easy out at 1st.”
This being Pudvar’s first season as a Jasper, Coach Miller had nothing but good things to say about him.
“Oliver has that It factor that you want every athlete to have,” Miller said. “He’s very confident in his abilities; even though he’s only an 18-year-old young man, he has the mindset of a junior or a senior, he’s not afraid of anything….You don’t see too many freshmen that will take over what we call the closer role.”
With so much preparation in the works for the season, the Jasper Men’s Baseball team promises to be a standout this year.