Isabel Pheifer — Staff writer
Goals are vital to every successful sports program. When asked what the goals of the Dordt University Men’s Baseball program are for this year, Head Coach Nathan Bacon had a quick response: consistency. Bacon made it clear that the team’s list of four main goals is built upon one thing, relentlessly pursuing and confidently working on what’s in front of them. In the opening weekends of the 2023 baseball season, the Defenders have been consistent at one thing — winning.
After a 12-32 overall record last season, the Defenders had plenty of room to grow this season. Many key players returned this year, including sophomore Kaden Davis, juniors Dylan Stanley, Anthony Rodriguez Klinzing, and Nolan Christianson, and seniors, Gyeongju Kim, Diego Benitez, and Nick Yeager.
“I want to show people that playing against us is no easy task,” Stanley said. “We are a very hungry team, with guys who love competing.”
Opening weekend for the Defenders brought them to Omaha, Nebraska, on Feb. 11 for a three-game matchup against York University (Kansas). Getting the 2023 season underway, the Defenders came out ready and snatched a 6-3 win. Yeager led the team from the mound, with eight strikeouts and two hits allowed. On the offensive side, Davis had a solo homerun and a single, and freshman Logan Harris had a single, double, and run batted in. Stanley had plenty of success with the bat, reaching twice, knocking in a run, and scoring a run.
In the second game of the day, the York Panthers showed up ready to play. Leading 8-5 in the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers looked like they were going to even the weekend series. But after a bases loaded double from senior Logan De Vries, the Defenders capped off a four-run inning and stole the win from the Panthers. The third game of the weekend proved to be no different, with a seven run first inning by the Defenders giving them an edge that the Panthers could never recover from.
“Multiple guys have stepped up in big time roles, no matter the situation,” Stanley said. “This is the most fun I’ve had playing baseball in a while.”
The next weekend, Dordt traveled to Winfield, Kansas for four games. The first game against Central Christian (Kansas) brought yet another dub to the Defenders win column, this time by a commanding 18-0 shutout. The first ten runs came in the first inning, with six more coming in the fourth and the final two coming in the fifth. Stanley had a two-run homerun, and Yeager took control of the mound with 12 strikeouts.
The Defenders fifth straight win of the season came from a 7-3 victory over Southwestern (Kansas). Dordt never trailed in the game. The next morning, Dordt was slated to play Southwestern for a second time. Going for six straight, the Defenders fell just short. Playing from behind the whole game and battling multi-run deficits, the Defenders lost it on a two-run homerun in the bottom of the final inning.
Defeat didn’t stand long. The next game, Dordt played Central Christian and ran away with a 9-2 win. Freshman Matthew Ramstead handled much of the game from the mound, with three walks and four strikeouts. Christianson and junior Ben Baker were both 2-3 from the box, and freshman Trevor Jackson added a single and a triple. That win puts Dordt at 6-1 for the season.
The Defender baseball team is attempting to break the chain of misfortune that plagued them in the last few seasons. Stanley acknowledged they have a long road ahead of them after their hot start, but he’s eager for his team to show people what they can do. From the eyes of their statistics and record so far, the team is on their way to starting a chain of success.
“We have a young group that is motivated to grow in the knowledge of the game and do what is asked of them at a high level,” Bacon said. “Three months from now I look forward to reflecting on strides they have made individually and as a team.”
Photo credit: Dordt University Athletics