The dugout diaries: USD baseball conquers the Carolinas

By Jackson Shannon

It’s safe to say that the first away series of the year was a success for the Torero baseball team. We were able to win all four of our games on our tour through the Carolinas and improve our record to 7-4.

Early Wednesday morning we flew to Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and took a four-hour bus ride to Myrtle Beach, S.C. We were fortunate enough to stay at the Caravelle Resort, which is right on the beach, and enjoy the beautiful South Carolina coastal landscape.

Our first game was against Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers, an annual NCAA tournament participant and past foe of USD baseball. Due to the renovation of Chanticleers’ ballpark we played at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ ballpark, a minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers. We were able to win the game 7-3 thanks in part to the offensive performances of junior shortstop Chris Wooley and senior outfielder Dillon Checkal.

The pitching was solid as we held the Chanticleers scoreless in eight out of the nine innings.

“It was great to get a win in our first road game, the team played well, and we enjoyed playing at Coastal Carolina,” Wooley said.

After the game we showered and changed in the Pelicans clubhouse and loaded the bus and embarked on a three-hour bus ride to Wilmington, N.C. The weekend’s games consisted of a tournament hosted by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Seahawks. The other tournament participants were the Gardner-Webb University Runnin’ Bulldogs and the Stony Brook University Seawolves. We stayed at a hotel near campus about a mile away from the North Carolina coastline.

Friday’s game was a 5-0 victory over the Bulldogs, highlighted by junior pitcher Michael Wagner’s masterful performance on the mound. Wagner held the Bulldogs scoreless through seven innings of work and junior pitcher Max MacNabb closed out the remaining two innings.

“I didn’t have my best stuff, but I was able to command my pitches when I needed too, and consistently kept the hitters off balance,” said Wagner.

The masterful pitching of the Toreros yet again highlighted Saturday’s game as we beat defeated the Seahawks 2-0 in ten innings. Junior pitcher Dylan Covey struck out thirteen batters through six innings, and the combination of freshman PJ Conlon and senior Trevor Bayless struck out five batters and held the Seahawks scoreless through the final four innings.

The biggest upside to shutting out an opponent for the Torero pitching staff is that we are allowed to participate in batting practice. Now for those of you who do not know, pitchers don’t hit in college, so any opportunity we get to hit is like winning the lottery. It’s a great reward for the entire pitching staff and a lot of fun for everyone on the team. Throughout my college career, pitchers’ batting practice is always fun and always entertaining.

Sunday’s game started at 10am Eastern Time and was a true team win. Everything that had been clicking for our team through the past week of games showed on Sunday. Our hitters absolutely tore the cover off the ball; we hit five home runs and scored 15 runs, defeating the Seawolves 15-4.

Senior catcher Dillon Haupt hit two home runs in the game and was encouraged by the team’s success in the Carolinas.

“It was a total success for our team. We pitched really well, hit really well and played good defense. We’re starting to get into a groove, but we need to keep it going and keep improving if we want to get where we want to go,” Haupt said.

Overall it was a great weekend for Torero baseball. We were able to get four quality wins and improve our record to 7-4. I mentioned in my previous article that the series against the San Diego State Aztecs was a big blow to our team, but that we would not flinch, move on and not look back. We haven’t let the failures of that series affect us and we are playing one game at a time. This is a great sign for our team this early in the season, as this mentality will be crucial later on.

We are following up our tour through the Carolina’s with six home games in seven days. The weekend’s schedule consists of the annual USD tournament with the University of Michigan Wolverines, the Saint Louis University Billikens and the College of the Holy Cross Crusaders participating.

It’s a full slate of baseball for the Toreros but I think we a prepared and ready to do some serious damage in the win column. As always, I encourage all of you to come out to Fowler Park and support Torero baseball!