Grizzlies off to a rocky start


The baseball team has a 3-14 overall record and is 1-5 in Horizon League play.

With some tough non-conference games and a challenging start to conference play, Oakland baseball finds itself in a big hole early in the season.

The Golden Grizzlies have only played 17 of its scheduled 56 regular season games. In that time, the team has faced some incredibly tough opponents on the road as they went to Florida State, USC and Arizona – all of whom were at one pointed ranked in the top 30 this season.

To go along with the tough non-conference schedule, Oakland started conference play by hitting the road against Wright State and UIC – teams who were voted as the top two Horizon League teams in the coaches’ preseason poll and currently sit atop the standings.

Oakland was swept by Wright State two weekends ago and lost two out of three to UIC this past weekend.

The 3-14 overall record and 1-5 HL record might be explainable, but before the season, head coach John Musachio said that he wants to challenge his team to be above mediocrity.

“If they want mediocrity, they won’t be here for very long,” Musachio said. “They have to be willing to face the different challenges throughout a season.”

Senior outfielder Robby Enslen, who was voted Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year, echoed many of Musachio’s points. He commented on how great the team looked in the preseason and thought the team has a real shot at competing for the Horizon League crown.

“I feel as preseason preparation, this looks like the best we have ever had,” Enslen said. “We have the potential to do very special things this season.”           

The Golden Grizzlies certainly still have a chance do to special things this season. With road trips to Wright State and UIC out of the way, Oakland will have to take advantage of its upcoming schedule.

The team sits at the bottom of the Horizon League standings, but it has a chance to make up some ground as its next two conference opponents are Milwaukee and Youngstown State, who are just above the Grizzlies in the standings.

One area the team needs to improve on is its offense. The Grizzlies currently sit in last place in batting average in the Horizon League with just a .252 team average. The team showed some life this past weekend, however, as it posted 10 runs off of 13 hits on Friday (in a loss), and then 10 runs off of 18 hits in a doubleheader on Saturday (splitting the two games).

Individually, Enslen is leading the team offensively. He’s batting .310 and a team leading eight RBIs, Oakland will need his bat as they go through conference play.

Brett Impemba has also been swinging a hot bat with a .286 average and .411 slugging percentage.

Pitching has been a struggle for Oakland in the early going, but again maybe some leeway is appropriate here due to the competition. The team ERA sits at 6.99, which is again at the bottom of the Horizon League.

Aaron Dehn had an impressive start in the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday. He went seven innings giving up three runs on eight hits and three strikeouts while picking up the win. Nate Schweers then came in for the two inning save and even though he gave up a run, he did enough to secure the victory.

These next few weeks are going to be crucial for Oakland baseball. As a team who was picked to finish last in the Horizon League, they will need to start to string together some victories in order to get where they want to go. According to Musachio, they want to go far.

“We have a tough group of young men and our leadership has never been stronger. This group is going to be tough,” Musachio said. “We want to win the conference and conference tournament championship.”

Oakland travels to East Lansing on Wednesday to take on the Spartans and Milwaukee Panthers this weekend, in what should have been the first home series of the season. However, poor field conditions will send Oakland on the road.