Bluejays bounce back over Dominican, eye series victory against Wesleyan

Bluejay shortstop Brandon Kressner, a three-year starter who will be returning to play this season, swings for the fences at a game during the 2016 campaign.  File Photo

Bluejay shortstop Brandon Kressner, a three-year starter who will be returning to play this season, swings for the fences at a game during the 2016 campaign.  File Photo

Cole SheeksSports Editor
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One day after a decisive loss at the hands of Augustana, the EC baseball team (15-12, 8-5 CCIW) got back in the win column with a 9-5 victory over the Dominican University Stars (8-17, 3-7 NACC) at Butterfield Park in Elmhurst.

The Bluejays jumped out an early lead with a four run first inning and later added three consecutive home runs to begin the fourth, making the score 8-1 and forcing their opponents to play from behind.

“We wanted a good response today, so it was good to jump out and kinda get going there, especially against a team like Dominican, who you know will give you everything they've got” said shortstop Brandon Kressner. “It's good to jump out, especially in the first inning.”

Third baseman Reagan McReynolds led off for the Bluejays and provided the necessary spark to set off both rallies. After singling and later scoring to lead off the first inning, the junior came to the plate to begin the fourth inning, worked a full count, and managed to send the seventh pitch of the at-bat over the rightfield wall.

“It was two strikes on me, so I was just trying to put the ball in play. Luckily it went out, then Kressner and Havel followed suit. So that was pretty cool” said McReynolds.

As he watched his teammate homer from the on-deck circle, Kressner studied the way the Stars were attacking the top of the Bluejays lineup and was ready to hit as he made his way to the plate.

“I saw [McReynolds] attack a fastball, so I knew [the Dominican pitcher] was gonna come fastball early. Then he got behind in the count, so I was looking to put a good swing on it. I knew I got it pretty good” said Kressner of his first home run of the season.

First baseman Ben Havel followed with a home run of his own, a team-leading 7th blast of the season, expanding the lead to seven and allowing the Bluejays to coast to victory despite a few late runs tallied by Dominican.

Although it was a non-conference game, the Bluejays felt it was important to establish some positive momentum prior to their CCIW matchup with Illinois-Wesleyan tomorrow.

“Definitely important because this is a non-conference game. So going back into a conference game tomorrow, it will definitely help get our bats back to life so we can take Wesleyan again” said McReynolds.

Southern feels that the team knows Illinois-Wesleyan well and that execution will be key as the Titans head back to Elmhurst.

“The two games we played on Saturday were great examples. Game one, we threw it around and kicked it around a little bit. We made some mistakes and didn't execute offensively, and we took a big loss. The second game, we didn't make any errors, we played very good defense, we executed offensively, and we won. You're gonna have to do that to beat them” said Southern.

Right-hander Kiko Mari is scheduled to take the ball for the Bluejays in the rubber match of the season series. Mari has not faced the Titans this season; however, he started a game at Illinois-Wesleyan a year ago as a sophomore, allowing three earned runs over five innings of work while striking out two.

“He’s got good stuff and if he's down in the zone, he'll have success” said Southern, describing Mari. “He's been throwing strikes out of the bullpen pretty well, so I think he's made the adjustments he's needed to make and I look forward to him throwing a good ballgame tomorrow.”

The Bluejays are scheduled to meet the Titans for a 3:00 p.m. game at Butterfield Park Wednesday afternoon, weather permitting.