Baptist Bible Has Little Defense For Baseball's Offensive Attack

Friday, March 23, 2012 - page 2
 

As he crossed home plate on an RBI groundout for the Muhlenberg baseball team’s second run against Baptist Bible, Danny Usewick got an unwelcomed surprise.

Phillip Balseca
Balseca struck out five in six innings of work to pick up his first career win.
Unbeknownst to the freshman, the Baptist Bible first baseman fired home trying to turn the double play. The throw was low and late, but it bounced up and hit off the side of Usewick’s helmet as the crowd let out a collective “Ohhh.”

But luckily for Usewick, that’s why base runners wear helmets, and he just shook it off. And luckily for the Mules, that was about as much harm as the Defenders would cause as Muhlenberg scored in five of its eight at bats and allowed just one unearned run for a 13-1 win.

“I can honestly say that’s the first time I’ve ever been hit while scoring a run,” Usewick said with a laugh. “Baseball’s a game of firsts; you never know what you’re going to see during a game.”

Proving Usewick true, the game also produced a few other rarely seen occurrences. The win moved the Mules to 15-4. It’s just the second time in the 93-year history of the program that they are more than 10 games over .500 (the 1928 team went 11-0).

And four innings after Usewick took the ball off his noggin, senior Nick Busillo launched almost identical towering shots over the same part of the right field fence for a pair of home runs in the seventh and eighth innings. The first, a solo shot, put the Mules up, 7-1.

The second, a grand slam in the eighth, ended the scoring and added an emphatic exclamation point to another big Mule win. It’s just the 26th time a Mule has hit multiple home runs in a game, and the first since 2008.

The five RBI moved Busillo into a tie for the team lead with 25. And according to Usewick, the two big flies were just vintage "Goose," as he's known to his teammates.

“Goose has been hitting the ball all year, and when he really connects he can hit it a long way,” Usewick said. “Those were two of the farthest balls I’ve ever seen hit. It shows you how strong he is.”

While the offense stole much of the spotlight, Muhlenberg’s pitching, albeit youthful, was just as dominant. Making the first start of his career, Phillip Balseca led a group of four freshmen that did not allow an earned run and only surrendered five hits.

Danny Usewick
Usewick, who entered the game with just one hit, went 4-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored.
David Anderson, Seth Fenster and Nick Gies pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, and combined for six of Muhlenberg’s 11 strikeouts. Gies struck out the side looking in the ninth to help the Mules reach double digit strikeouts for the fourth time this season.

Defensively, the staff got some help from freshman centerfielder Jimmy Cody, who got a force out at second on a softly hit ball in the second (another rarity) and junior left fielder John Muha, who turned a double play by throwing out a runner trying to take third on a fly out in the fourth.

Cody picked up three hits and two RBI, and sophomore Max Litvak went 2-for-4 and scored twice in his first start of the season.

The Mules reached double digit runs for the fourth straight game and 11th time this season. They also collected 17 hits, with five players finishing with multiple hits, including Litvak and Usewick, who were filling in for everyday starters.

That’s part of the reason why the Mules have had so much success this year, Usewick said. With a deep roster, he feels there’s not too much of a dropoff when the reserves come in.

And with the season near its midpoint, he added that he expects to see the team reach plenty more milestones but all is done.

“When your name’s called, it’s your time to go out and make something happen,” Usewick said. “I just tried to do whatever I could to help the team win, and I think that’s why we’re winning games. Nobody is worried about who starts or who gets all the hits. We all get along and root for each other, no matter who’s in the game.”
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