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Bears 'optimistic' despite weekend sweep

The baseball team's season got off to a rough start this weekend as the Bears were swept in a three-game away series against the Florida International Panthers. Despite the losses, co-captain and shortstop Graham Tyler '12 and co-captain and pitcher Kevin Carlow '13 said they are pleased with how the team played.

"Obviously, everyone wants to win, and so when you go 0-3, it's tough," Tyler said. But he said he was "pretty encouraged" by what he saw from the team.

Carlow expressed the same sentiment. "It's always tough to lose … but we played pretty well for our first weekend out," he said, adding that the current mood of the team is "optimistic." 

Bruno (0-3) started off well in game one, taking a 2-0 first inning lead. Tyler scored on catcher Wes Van Boom's '14 single to get the Bears on the board, and first baseman Cody Slaughter '13 scored the second run when center fielder John Sheridan '13 reached base on an error. Bruno added another run in the second inning when right fielder Matt DeRenzi '14 drove in second baseman J.J. Franco '14 with a RBI single.

The Panthers (4-5) rallied in the middle innings, taking a 5-3 lead in the fifth. The Bears added two more runs to tie the game in the top of the seventh when Slaughter walked in Franco, and DeRenzi scored on a balk. But the Panthers took the lead for good when Adam Kirsch took Will Marcal '15 deep for a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh to beat Bruno 6-5.

The Bears got on the board early again in game two. Designated hitter Mike DiBiase '14 hit a two-run home run to score Tyler in the top of the first, and DiBiase scored again on Sheridan's fielder's choice in the third to give Bruno a 3-0 lead. But the Panthers scored four runs in their next three at-bats to take a 4-3 lead, while the Bears' bats fell silent en route to another Panther win.

After two close contests, game three was the Bears' biggest loss. After eight innings, the Panthers held an 8-1 lead, with Bruno's only run coming when Marcal, playing right field this time, doubled in DiBiase. The Bears scored two in the ninth as Marcal and pinch hitter Dan Kerr '15 crossed the plate on wild pitches, but it was not enough, and the Panthers won 8-3.

Carlow said the most encouraging signs from the weekend were the contributions from the team's young players. Specifically, he and Tyler both praised Marcal, who pitched four innings in game one, striking out six batters while allowing only one earned run and went 4-8 at the plate in games two and three. "He really showed us some stuff this weekend," Carlow said.

Both captains also singled out Taylor Wright '15 after he pitched 3.2 shutout innings in game two. He had "a really great series," Tyler said.

There is still some uncertainty about who will be in the starting lineup and rotation for the conference season, but Tyler said he does not see this as a bad thing. Of the players looking to win spots, "no one took their name out of it" with poor performances this weekend, he said.

"I think everybody's got a chance to really pitch in," Tyler said. Unlike past years when it was clear that some players would not get much playing time, "we don't have any guys on this team that … don't have the ability or don't have the chance to really contribute this year," he said.

Neither captain said he was concerned about the Bears having lost two games that they initially led. 

"That's just a case of it being early," Carlow said. "I don't think it's anything to worry about." 

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