BY Dan Gardella
Asst. Sports Editor
With the Northeast Conference (NEC) portion of the schedule beginning for the Pioneers baseball team, there is a feeling of a fresh start to their season, which began with 24 of their first 26 games on the road, including the first 23 games of the year.
“There’s a reason the non-conference schedule was so tough,” said sophomore infielder Jake Frasca.
“The better competition you play, the more you raise to those standards. We rise to that level. It puts us in a great spot in NEC play.”
The team began the non-conference portion of their schedule 5-15, and thanks to series wins over LIU Brooklyn and Fairleigh Dickinson, the Pioneers are off to a 4-2 start in NEC play.
“It goes to our preparation in practices and meetings,” said head coach Nick Restaino. “The message is to play the game one pitch at a time, do something now to help us later. If you do your job, you can win a game and a series.”
While the schedules for each season are planned a year in advance, there is the hope that by playing against tough opponents, they will respond. Restaino said that while it is risky, the goal is to challenge the team and hope they answer well as they prepare for conference play.
The team has not focused on what they have already done this season.
“We can’t get complacent and content. We have to keep our foot on the gas pedal,” said sophomore pitcher Ryan LaMay. “We wish we were 6-0. If you get complacent, it can lead to mediocrity.”
With the weather warming up in the northeast, the team is finally beginning to have the opportunity to play baseball on their home field, something they haven’t done before.
“The first couple weeks of the season are always challenging,” said LaMay. “We spend our early practices indoors while southern teams are outside. We come into these games as prepared as you can get with indoor facilities.”
LaMay also said that the teams who had the ability to practice outside all winter were slightly better at executing the little things, which ultimately gave them the slight advantage.
According to Athletic Communications, LaMay leads the Pioneers in innings pitched and Frasca leads the team in hits. Their jobs range to more than just the baseball field. For a team that has just six seniors, it is their job to guide the freshmen, who have already made strides in their young college careers.
“We have a lot of impactful freshman. Our centerfielder, Justin Jordan, has been extremely helpful. We have a couple other guys who are throwing the ball well,” said Frasca. “It’s important for them to see what our conference is like and that we are a top tier team. We spent all this time practicing and they finally get to see the result on the field.”
With the season not even at its midpoint yet, the goal is to continue to improve every day.
“If you worry about one thing that happens, it affects the whole series,” said Restaino. “Our message is to play the game one pitch at a time. If we do our job, the percentages are going to be in our favor.”