GREENBELT – The Eleanor Roosevelt Raiders were clinging to a two-run lead against the Northwestern Wildcats at the bottom of the fourth, and thanks to an acrobatic leap from Northwestern junior Nick Libcke, momentum was slipping from the Raiders’ grasp.
At the bottom of the following inning, sophomore Hector De La Rosa waited patiently at third base after starting the Raiders off with a single. He looked over at his coach, who gave him the call and he began to creep closer to home plate.
Then, as the Wildcats’ pitcher began to wind up to throw, De La Rosa took off. He sprinted down the white line and slid home, giving the Raiders their second-largest lead of the day.
Then it happened again, and then again. And by the time sophomore Brian Bailey jogged home on another stolen base on a brisk and windy afternoon on April 6, the Raiders had taken the game in six innings with an 18-8 win.
“We got off to a rough start…but fortunately, we hit the ball a little bit, had some good at-bats,” Eleanor Roosevelt Head Coach Andrew Capece said. “So it kind of overshadowed the mistakes we made.”
The Raiders (3-1) came into the game against the Wildcats (3-3) after dropping their first loss of the year to Charles H. Flowers the day before. The team saw a severe drop in runs, scoring just seven after averaging 16 in the first two games of the season.
Capece’s squad got back to scoring in high volume against the Wildcats, but the team’s slow starts have come from allowing too many players on base.
“We have to throw strikes,” Capece said. “We walked like eight or nine guys against Flowers, and we walked a lot of guys early on today. But we’ll learn from it.”
Capece has tried out six different pitchers so far this season to see which players will fit into the role. Northwestern, however, tried out the same number of pitchers in just one game against the Raiders. That decision from Northwestern Head Coach Joe Woodring stemmed from the Wildcats’ future schedule, which featured a doubleheader the following day.
“It (the decision to play a lot of pitchers) was completely due to keeping them eligible,” Woodring said. “I could have let my ace go the entire game, but I wanted to make sure that he would be able to pitch again tomorrow (April 7) and on Monday.”
Despite the frequent changes on the mound for the Wildcats, Northwestern was still in position to win. Had Woodring decided to limit the number of pitching changes, the game might have been different.
“We hit well, and we worked the count well,” he said. “But if I didn’t have to switch out my pitchers, I’m very confident there would have been a very different result.”
Eleanor Roosevelt had four players score multiple runs against Northwestern. Senior outfielder and leadoff hitter Se’Von Anthony had a run in the first three innings, starting the game off with a double and finished with two walks.
Junior shortstop Derek Ohringer also had three runs with two base hits, and Bailey finished 4-4 with three singles and a double.
Wildcats senior Adonis Escano hit 3-3 and had three runs to go with an RBI, while fellow senior Ray Gonzalez had three RBI. The team hit a combined .250 in 20 at-bats.
The Wildcats were hot to start the game, taking a 4-3 lead thanks to three back-to-back runs at the top of the lineup. Northwestern attempted to maintain that pace with two runs in the second from Escano and sophomore Javon Wright, but their production, both at the bat and the plate dropped dramatically after back-to-back outs left a runner stranded on second base.
However, while the Wildcats were struggling to keep their bats alive at the plate. The Raiders were stacking up runs, mainly in part to their speed on base. A four-run inning in the second gave them their first lead of the game.
Three consecutive hits at the end of the inning allowed runner after runner to come home, and by the end of the third inning, the Raiders had taken a 10-6 lead.
The Raiders did not have control of the game, though. That had to wait until the fourth inning when Eleanor Roosevelt scored six runs, mostly by stealing home plate. Capece said the amount of natural quickness on his team gives him the confidence to signal steals more often.
The Raiders added two more runs in the fifth inning, and with another stolen base, this time from Bailey, they took their double-digit lead and ended the game.