After an injury-filled season, baseball strung together three key victories in its final four divisional games to finish with a 6-6 record in the NESCAC East and a chance to qualify for the NESCAC tournament this weekend.

Heading into the weekend, Bowdoin’s playoff hopes depend on the Trinity-Bates series. Both teams are 4-5 in NESCAC play, and Bowdoin owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Bates, but not over Trinity. The only scenario where Bowdoin qualifies, then, is if Bates wins exactly two out of three over the Bantams.

On Friday, Bowdoin defeated rival Colby 7-4 in the first of a three-game set. Then, in the Saturday doubleheader, the Polar Bears won the first 5-3, and lost the second 4-3. Finally, in Tuesday’s must-win against Bates, Bowdoin blew out the Bobcats 15-4. In an out of conference game yesterday, however, the Polar Bears fell 6-2 to the University of Southern Maine (USM). 

“I would say the reason we’ve been playing so well down the stretch is that we’ve had a consistent, healthy lineup over the last two weekends,” captain Aaron Rosen ’15 said. “All year, injuries to key players have not only taken guys out of games but also made the transition back into offense kind of hard.”

One of the keys to Bowdoin’s success has been the exceptional performances of Henry Van Zant ’15, who pitched a complete game on Friday and another stellar eight innings on Tuesday. Van Zant leads the NESCAC with a 5-0 in-conference record and is 7-1 overall in nine starts with a 1.95 ERA.

“It’s always cool to watch Henry,” Rosen said. “Especially when his arm is hanging after the 130 or so pitches he threw on Friday. He threw another 140 yesterday; you always know you’re going to get a gritty performance out of him.”

In Friday’s victory, the teams were locked at 4-4 going into the bottom of the seventh. With two outs in the inning, Chris Cameron ’15 punched a single up the middle that scored Rosen and Erik Jacobsen ’15 to put the Polar Bears ahead for good.  Sam Canales ’15 followed with another single that scored Cole DiRoberto ’15 and pushed Bowdoin’s lead to three.

“Over the course of the weekend, our bats came alive,” Head Coach Mike Connelly said. “So many of our games have really been decided by that big two out hit, and this weekend we got some big hits in some key spots.”

In the first of two Saturday games, Bowdoin scored four runs in the second inning and tacked on another in the third.  That was all the run support Harry Ridge ’16 needed to put down the Mules, and he struck out six while walking only one. Chris Nadeau ’16, Sean Mullaney ’17, Cameron, Jacobsen, and DiRoberto each had an RBI for the Polar Bears in a team victory.

In the second game, Bowdoin blew a three run lead and lost to Colby in extra innings despite a strong performance from Rosen, who hit a two-run homer and stole two bases. It was Rosen’s fifth home run of the year, tied for second in the NESCAC.

The first three innings of Tuesday’s landslide win over Bates were a showcase in hitting from both teams, with the Polar Bears leading 6-4 going into the top of the fourth. It would continue that way for Bowdoin, as they scored three runs in each of the fifth, sixth and ninth innings. However, once Van Zant settled in Bates was denied another run. Bowdoin put the game out of reach in the fifth when Chad Martin ’16 crushed a three run homer to put the Polar Bears ahead 9-4.

“That game was a blast,” Rosen said. “As coach said, that was the easy part. Now we have to wait and see if we make it into the tournament, and that’s the tough part.”

“I’m just praying that we get into the thing,” Rosen said. “If we somehow sneak in, I feel like we can win it all with the way we’ve been playing.”

Bowdoin will close out its regular season with three games over the weekend: a doubleheader at home against Middlebury on Saturday and an away game at St. Joseph’s. None of these three games will affect their playoff chances, regardless of result.