Renegades drop the ball, hold heads high despite season of loss



Jameson Swain makes a diving stop to second base and to get the out, tossing  the ball to first baseman Joe Walsh, in a game against DePaul University Baseball on April 18. 

By Sports & Health Reporter and Contributing Writer Mikhaela Padilla

The caps are now off for the Columbia Renegades baseball team as it wrapped up its spring season on April 25.

The team got off to a rocky start this year, absorbing three losses in a series against Lewis University. After that, the Renegades could not quite come together to have a successful season. 

Co-captain Taylor Martin, a freshman journalism major, said the team began practicing in January at the Goodman Center, 501 S. Michigan Ave., but could not work cohesively on the field. Despite preparations, the Renegades struggled with player absences and team morale all semester.

“[Lewis University] was definitely beatable,” Martin said. “It was the guys getting down on themselves—we could have beaten them, but it was the teammates’ attitude once again.”

Among other things, the number of bugs on the field was a big distraction for players, said Kent Leng, a senior and marketing major. 

“Baseball is a game that requires seeing,” Leng said. “I’m not trying to blame it on the bugs, but they were forming around your head and going in your eyes and underneath your baseball cap.”

Jameson Swain, a junior journalism major and center fielder, said the team tried to stay optimistic through its losing streak and that there were positive outcomes from the spring season. 

“Baseball is a very mental sport, and if you let what happened the day before affect you, you’re already defeated,” Swain said. “We took what we needed out of the Saturday game against Lewis and then came out Sunday and played a lot better. That’s been kind of our forte. We don’t come out [playing] very hot, but then start getting traction and making the plays that we need to be competitive. I feel like the baseball team as a whole [is] moving in the right direction.”

In their second-to-last series, the Renegades went up against rival team DePaul University Club Baseball and lost 12-1 in the first game and 7-6 in the second of the two-game series.

Problems occurred in the last inning of the second game against DePaul, causing a stir between the  two teams. 

Swain was up to bat with co-captain Toby Pechner on third base. The pitch apparently hit Swain in the shin as Pechner headed for home plate, unaware that Swain was hit. 

The umpires did not rule a hit batsman and agreed with DePaul that Swain had swung at the pitch. Swain lost his cool that he had not swung and Pechner was sent back to third. Swain was sent back to the plate to bat and was hit again by the next pitch. 

The umpires awarded Swain first base, sending co-captain and catcher Corbin Merriman, a junior business & entrepreneurship major, up to bat. Merriman hit a pop fly to right field, resulting in the team getting its third out and ending the game quickly. 

“It was a mess,” Swain said. “It shouldn’t have happened. The ball hit me—it should have been dead. We can’t do anything about it now. We’ll move forward.”

Leng said he has never experienced such an upset among his teammates and that it was a tough way to end the game. 

“It was heated,” Leng said. “The fact that we don’t have video replay is interesting for the umpires to overturn a call like that.”

Swain said he wants to see how the Renegades develop next season.

“The team’s going to have a whole new look. There are a lot of guys that won’t be back for the fall or are graduating this May,” Swain said. “Joe Walsh has been on the team for a couple of years now. He’s not a captain, but he’s definitely a leader on the field and that’ll be a tough position to fill. I hope there’s been enough exposure for people to come out and replace [teammates] that have played integral parts.”

Merriman said he was satisfied with the performance and efforts that were put into the spring season for his first year as captain. 

“I met a lot of young guys,” Merriman said. “They really forth put forward the effort. I’m proud of these guys. They fought well and they kept us in it. That’s all I could ask for.”

Leng said the team needs to work on its visibility on campus in order to promote participation in the Renegades organization. 

“We want to be a better baseball team,” Leng said. “I think we just need to work on recruiting. We could find some very good baseball players that are in the woodwork through Columbia.”