Baseball brings victories home

Oakland University baseball coach John Musachio is a hard-working man. And his team shares that characteristic.

Immediately following a 12-4 victory over Concordia, Musachio marched to the bullpen with a couple of his pitchers to get in some extra work. Musachio and the Golden Grizzlies hope that mindset will help lead to more results like the ones they had last week.

Oakland played its first home games of the season last Friday, April 2, and came away with two victories, sweeping Concordia in a double-header. The Grizzlies (5-14 through April 5) held on to win the first game, 9-7, before trouncing Concordia in the nightcap (12-4).

“This was huge,” said Musachio, while still keeping an eye on his pitchers’ workouts. “Winning breeds winning. Nothing builds confidence more than getting wins, especially with this being our home opener. It was definitely important for us to build some momentum today and get two wins, and we accomplished that.”

In the first game, the Grizzlies scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 9-6 lead. Concordia rallied to score one run in the top of the seventh, closing the margin to 9-7, but Oakland got a pickoff and a strikeout to end the game.

Sophomore Aaron Cieslak went 3-for-3, hit a home run, scored three runs and had two RBIs to pace Oakland offensively and sophomore pitcher Kyle Teague (2-3) picked up the win, allowing three hits and three runs, none of them earned, while striking out four batters in five innings of work.

Concordia got off to a quick start in the nightcap, posting three runs in the first inning before eventually falling behind the Grizzlies.

In the second inning, Oakland quickly scored two runs and junior Tommy Jablonski knocked in another with an RBI-double to tie the game at 3-3. Later in the inning, junior Aaron Wick came to the plate with runners on the corners and launched the ball over the outfield fence for a three-run home run and a 6-3 Oakland lead.

The Grizzlies lead only grew from there.

Freshman Mike Carson hit a no-doubt-about-it home run that scored two runs in the fifth and senior Brett Geschke went yard as well in the sixth to put Oakland up 12-4.

Another Grizzly who had a productive day at the plate was freshman Todd Dunham, who went 3-for-4, scored two runs and drove in a run.

“I think the six spot (six runs) in the second inning was key for us,” Musachio said. “We’re getting better offensively and our guys stayed relaxed and composed which allowed us to do some good things today.”

Sophomore Matt LaMothe started the game on the mound for Oakland and pitched into the third inning. LaMothe, who had a strong season as a freshman, has struggled thus far this season (8.26 ERA) but Musachio liked the progress he saw in his latest outing.

“He’s definitely going to be one of our top pitchers,” Musachio said. “It was good for him to overcome some adversity today. It’s been a while since he’s been out there so we expected a little bit of rust to be there. But Matt really battled today, he’s one of our top three pitchers, and he’ll be starting for sure when we get to Oral Roberts next weekend.”

Oral Roberts (11-12) is typically among the front runners in the Summit League and Oakland knows it will be in for a challenge in Tulsa, Okla., this weekend.

“Oral Roberts is the team to beat in the league and I think we’ll be prepared and go down there and be ready to play good baseball,” Musachio said. “I think we’re battle tested and I think that will be a fun series for us.”

After its four-game series at Oral Roberts, Oakland will return home for 11 straight games beginning April 14 against Eastern Michigan.