Baby Steps: Leopards match last season’s win total three weeks earlier

Baby+Steps%3A+Leopards+match+last+season%E2%80%99s+win+total+three+weeks+earlier

Jessica Deutsch

Photo by Sarah Fryefield ‘16

40 losses preceded it, but on May 5 of last year in the season finale, Lafayette baseball (10-19 overall, 3-7 Patriot League) won its tenth game.

Fast-forward one year and the Leopards have reached the double-digit win category nearly three weeks ahead of schedule.

They reached the decade mark last Sunday with a 9-7 thriller win against Navy. Junior Tim Lazor smacked a two-out solo homerun with the score 8-7 in the bottom of the eighth inning and Lafayette split its series with the Midshipmen.

Their record still isn’t ideal by any standard, but the team is looking at this season with a “glass half full” mentality.

“We look at it as we are better than last year,” Tim Lazor ‘15 said. “It’s a confidence builder, but at the same time it’s ten wins, we aren’t calling it quits.”

“Our team is at a better mental spot this year than last year. We know we’ve done better this year and that builds our confidence,” pitcher Ryan Callanan ‘16 said. “Everyone has been in big spots, everyone’s gotten it done.

Callanan put action behind those words on Sunday. Kash Manzelli of Navy, one of the best hitters in the Patriot League with a .299 batting average and 44 hits, came to the plate with the bases loaded and just one out. His prior at-bat resulted in a home run.

“I was watching him all weekend and saw he wasn’t good with pitches on the outside of the strike zone,” Callanan said.

Callanan worked him into a 1-2 count and then tempted Manzelli to swing on an outside pitch to strike him out.

“I hated seeing [Manzelli] up there, he could have very well broken the game open in one swing,” Callanan said. “Not seeing him get on base was big.”

Lafayette next plays Bucknell (19-14-1, 9-3 PL) this weekend at home. The two split their series last year and the Leopards won three out of four the year before to advance to the playoffs.

The top four teams qualify for the Patriot League Tournament. Lafayette is currently in fifth place of the six teams in the league, with eight league games remaining. They are one game behind Navy (18-21, 4-8 PL) in the Patriot League standings, and will need to lead the Midshipmen by the end of the season due to tiebreakers.

After first-place Bucknell, the Leopards have one Patriot League series left against second-place Lehigh (17-14, 7-4 PL), so they’re going to have to fight an uphill battle against the cream of the crop.

“We aren’t really thinking about anything that [Bucknell] has done so far in the league because baseball is such a here and now sport. We know if we play the way we can we can beat anyone,” Lazor said.