Fiery pitching fuels baseball team to opening season sweep

Pitching and defense star as baseball holds St. Mary’s to only four runs over three games in a dominant sweep to kick off 2016


Kyle Tipping, ‘16, threw three scoreless innings in game three of the series to finish off the Seahawks. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Caroline Blackmon

Washington and Lee’s baseball team swept St. Mary’s College of Maryland in its first series of the 2016 season on Feb. 6-7.

In the opener, the Generals shut out the Seahawks. Starting pitcher Tom Concklin, ‘17, pitched six shut-out innings while the Generals’ offense did its part by scoring two runs in the first inning and one run in the sixth.

It was the first time Concklin has been the opening day pitcher in his career at W&L.

“The first pitch is always really nerve-wracking,” Concklin said. “It was really nice to put my best foot forward, help the team out and get the first win under our belts.”

In games two and three, the Generals fell behind St. Mary’s early and had to fight back to win it.

In the second game on Feb. 6, they came back in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2-2, forcing the game into extra innings.

The bases were loaded when Riley Stout, ‘16, got a walk. He advanced all the runners and Jonny Swenson, ‘17, scored a run.

“We were able to show that we can stay in the game and come back,” Concklin said. “It was about hour seven of the day, but we kept the energy high and it paid off.”

Besides this being the opening series of the season, it was also the first weekend series for new Head Coach Lucas Jones. Jones played baseball at rival Lynchburg Collehge and has held different coaching positions across Division III.

One of Jones’s main goals for the season is to attempt to continue the legacy that Coach Jeff Stickley left behind after 29 years coaching W&L’s baseball team.

“First and foremost, I want to continue to develop on the culture that’s been established [by Stickley],” Jones said. “I want to create ways to continue to try to enhance the experience for our student athletes, both on and off the field.”

Captain Luke Myer, ‘16, hopes that everyone can put the team above themselves and he tries to set a good example for the rest of the team. Myer also sees strengths in this year’s team that he thinks makes this goal a possibility.

“Defensively we’re much better than we have been,” Myer said. “We also have really good pitching. The starting pitchers are good and we have pretty good depth in our bullpen.”

Another of the team’s strengths is its leadership, Jones said. Besides the two captains, Myer and Kyle Tipping, ‘16, the team also has a Leadership Council that is comprised of Concklin, Cory Paton, ‘17, and Kyle Ruedisili, ‘18.

“The captains have done a tremendous job of motivating our guys and continuing [to follow] the plan that was established in the fall,” Jones said. “They’re a great group of leaders and they’ve been able to handle that role.”

But, as Myer and Concklin know too well, while starting off the season strong is very important, continuing to keep the momentum going is important, too.

Last season, the Generals started out with a 3-1 record, and then ended up having a losing season with a final record of 8-16.

“It feels good to do what you needed to,” Myer said. “But, we [can’t have] a sense of complacency or too much excitement.”

The team plans on keeping its momentum going by showing the rest of the ODAC that the Generals’ opening weekend sweep was a not an anomaly.

“Coming out and playing the same way this weekend is very important,” Concklin said. “Especially considering that we have a lot of tough teams that we have to play in the conference, we need to shut teams down and put up runs.”

The Generals will open their home season against Southern Virginia University on Feb. 17. The game starts at 3 p.m.