Baseball blows out Mississippi Valley State in opener

Junior+utility+player+Evan+Keller+runs+the+bases+during+the+Lions+baseball+team%27s+doubleheader+season+opener+on+Feb.+20+against+Mississippi+Valley+State.+

Randy Bergeron/Courtesy of Sports Information

Junior utility player Evan Keller runs the bases during the Lions baseball team’s doubleheader season opener on Feb. 20 against Mississippi Valley State.

In the season opener, the Lions baseball team completed a sweep across three home games against Mississippi Valley State Feb. 20-21 at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field.

The doubleheader Saturday saw a 26-0 win for the Lions’ first game and a 23-0 win for the second. The Lions completed their sweep on Sunday, scoring 17-0. The opening game tied the program’s record for most runs scored in a single game. The weekend’s games also marked a program record for most runs scored back-to-back.

In the first game, starting pitcher Trey Shaffer did not give Mississippi Valley batters a chance, striking out 12 batters in the first five innings – all but clinching the win. On the offense, almost every Lion in the starting lineup earned a hit.

For the last game, the Lions remained strong on both offense and defense with starting pitcher Grant Upton gaining five no-hit innings and six Lions having multi-hit performances on the offensive.

Lions Head Coach Matt Riser said he thought his team did very well for their season opener and praised the Mississippi Valley State team for still being able to come out and play even when faced with harsh weather conditions throughout the week.

“I thought we pitched well, played good defense and hit and ran bases well. It was good to finally play someone else. Kudos to Valley and their men, they had a rough week with the weather, it’s been iced over and snowed over, and we have been outside all week but have found a way to get down here and made sure the guys played, so it was good to see them,” Riser said. 

Freshman infielder Jacob Burke stands at the plate during game three of the season opener on Feb. 21 against Mississippi Valley State. (Randy Bergeron/Courtesy of Sports Information)

Even though their season was cut short due to the pandemic last year, the Lions had held a series of intrasquad scrimmages and trained all of the fall semester. 

Riser gave his thoughts on how this prepared his team for this season.

“We got to identify the new pieces coming in. I think the returners obviously did a good job of starting to learn to assist and the time that they had off they did a good job of not just standing there stagnant. They made sure they were ready for the fall, and kudos to our administration and North Oaks for making sure we were safe and able to get back on campus and be as normal as possible,” he said.

The Lions gear up for their next game against the University of Arizona Wildcats on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.