Going into last weekend, the baseball team knew it needed to win two of three games in its series against Bates College (16–15; 1–11 NESCAC) to clinch a berth to the NESCAC playoffs. The Polar Bears swept the series, winning all three games and securing the fourth seed in the NESCAC East Division. Bowdoin will face the top seed in the West Division, Wesleyan University (16–7; 7–5 NESCAC), in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.
Last Friday, the Polar Bears jumped to a 6–1 lead in the fifth inning. CJ Brito-Trinidad ’23 and Kevin Murray ’25 batted in two runs each, and Ben McKenzie ’23, Luke Chessie ’23, Gabe Peckler ’23 and Nick Merrill ’22 contributed with an RBI each.
Head Coach Mike Connolly attributes the team’s success to its strong pitchers. He also noted that the offense’s timely hits were able to build on the pitching performances, allowing the team to score when it mattered most.
Stephen Simoes ’23 agreed that the offensive power of the team contributed significantly to its victories against Bates.
“Our offense stepped up a little bit. Our pitchers have been there the whole season, but our offense hasn’t always been there. We strung some hits together and were able to get some runs across,” Simoes said.
During the first game on Saturday, Bates scored early and jumped to a quick 3–0 lead in the first inning. Bowdoin struck back, and the two teams traded runs throughout the game. Merrill believes composure was crucial to the team’s ability to claw back from the deficit.
“We just tried to stay the course and not get too high or too low. We knew that in a seven inning game, anything can happen,” Merrill said.
The game remained tied after the seventh inning, sending the teams into extra innings. In the end, Murray rocketed a walk-off home run to win the game and clinch a spot in the NESCAC playoffs.
“The hit certainly was, for me and for the team, a lifelong memory,” Connolly said. “I’ll never forget, [Murray] will never forget, certainly his teammates will never forget that moment that the ball went over the fence.”
After securing their spot in the playoffs, the Polar Bears finished the weekend with a commanding 7–2 final win over Bates.
“I just think we stuck to the process we’ve been going with all year and stayed together. We finally proved what we’re capable of, and it came together,” McKenzie said.
On Tuesday, the Polar Bears concluded their regular season with a loss to Husson University (20–16), but as the team moves into the offseason, Merrill and his fellow seniors are trying to make the most of their remaining time and continue bolstering the team dynamic.
“As a senior, I’m trying to be the best leader I can on the team, especially when it comes to the ups and downs of the game and knowing that even if we are down 3–0 that we have the ability to come back and put up six runs like we did in the game on Saturday,” Merrill said.
Connolly is not changing the team’s strategy going into the playoffs. He believes when the team plays well, it can beat any team in the country, and when the team doesn’t play well, it can get beaten by any team in the country.
To Simoes, the best thing Bowdoin can do is maintain a levelheaded mindset as it enters the playoffs.
“I think our mindset is to just play. I am not worried about who’s on the other side. We haven’t played [Wesleyan] in eight years now. We don’t know much about them. They don’t know much about us. So just play our game, create our own momentum and not be too worried about how they respond,” Simoes said.
Bowdoin will play Wesleyan in a best-of-three series tomorrow and Sunday in Middletown, Conn.