The baseball team recovered from a late loss to Bates on Friday by winning three straight games—two against the Bobcats—to stay in second place in the heated NESCAC East standings. The team now boasts records of 14-8 overall and 2-1 in the NESCAC.
Although Bowdoin took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning on Friday behind pitcher Christian Martin '14, Bates scored in the fifth and eighth innings, pushing them ahead by one run. Even after having two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth with the chance to win, the Polar Bears were unable to capitalize. This was the first time since 2005 that Bates won a contest in Brunswick.
Martin finished with nine strikeouts and allowed eight hits in seven innings, at which point Henry Van Zant '15 and later Ian Edwards '12 relieved him.
"We didn't sustain pressure on them offensively from the first inning to the ninth inning," said Head Coach Mike Connolly. "When we took the lead in the middle of the game and went up 3-1, there was a sense of 'Alright, we're good,' and you can't play that way. When you go up 3-1, your immediate instinct has to be 'Tack on, add on, keep adding on.'"
Connolly also said that letting the game slip away on Friday served as a gut check for his team and created a new sense of urgency.
Bowdoin rebounded on Saturday, holding Bates to just one run on eight hits in two games. Oliver Van Zant '13 threw a shutout in the first game of the doubleheader, earning his second NESCAC Pitcher of the Week honor of the season.
"He was NESCAC Pitcher of the Year as a freshman for a reason—he was the best pitcher in our conference," Connolly said. "And he's a better pitcher now than he was then. What he's been able to do is to repeat his delivery to throw quality pitch after quality pitch, and when he does that, he's a nightmare for hitters."
Bowdoin's offense, rebuffed by the return of John Lefeber '14, Jordan Edgett '12 and Kyle LeBlanc '14 from injuries, saw greater success on Saturday than it had on Friday, and collected 20 hits and nine runs in the doubleheader.
Connolly stressed that the return of these key players has had positive effects on his entire teams' performance.
"Having Kyle and Jordan back has solidified us," Connolly said. "I think that we have complimentary parts again. Our pitching has been consistent and fantastic from start to finish, and now our offense is starting to look the way it looked when we started the season off 7-1."
"John Lefeber—the three-run homer he hit in game two changed the game," Connolly added. "It broke the game open, and it was a huge momentum shift. Having his presence in the lineup, even though he's off to a slow start, makes us different. He has the ability to change the game with one at-bat."
Tim Welch '12 pitched eight innings against Bates in the second game, giving up the teams' only run on Saturday, while also striking out four batters and allowing only four hits. Continuing an impressive comeback campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Welch stepped up in several key places according to Connolly, especially after the Polar Bears scored early in the game.
"When we stepped up and scored the four runs in third when [Lefeber] hit the homerun, it's important for the pitcher to go out there and shut it down so that momentum stays on your side," said Connolly. "He went right out and 1-2-3, we came back off and momentum stayed with us."
After scoring early just as it had done on Friday, Bowdoin was quick to not repeat its earlier mistake.
"We scored six early, but our at-bats through the remainder of the game remained consistent," Connolly said. "We were constantly putting guys on base, and we were constantly hitting balls hard. It was different than the day before where we took a lead and then sat back a little bit."
On Tuesday, the Polar Bears faced non-conference St. Joseph's, a team that boasted a 21-2 record going into the game, but suffered its worst loss of the season to Bowdoin.
Erik Jacobsen '15 spent the first five innings on the mound before Jay Loughlin '14 replaced him. Together, the pair allowed only four runs on eight hits. Bowdoin had a 6-4 lead by the fourth inning, but true to the lessons of earlier games, the team kept scoring, tacking on an additional three before the final out.
Bowdoin will kick off the weekend with a game today against Trinity and two more tomorrow. Trinity is atop the NESCAC East standings, and is undefeated in conference play.