Park baseball looking to turn things around

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Park University Sports Information

Freshman infielder Alex Rodriguez fielding a ball against Harris-Stowe State University.

Nathan Dunn, Reporter

Park University baseball is looking to turn its season as conference play begins. The Pirates started the season with a 1-7 nonconference record but snapped a seven-game losing streak with an extra inning win over Harris-Stowe State University on March 7.

That win came after losing all four games at the 2021 Joplin Tournament as well as the first three games of the team’s home-opening weekend at Comfort Field.

Freshman infielder Alex Rodriguez hit the walk-off single to center in the eighth inning to deliver Park’s first win of the season over Harris-Stowe State, driving in Trent Turner.

This season will be different for Park’s baseball team, as it’s the first one competing in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Park will compete in the Southern Division, which includes No. 10 ranked Central Methodist University and No. 25 ranked MidAmerica Nazarene University.

“I’m excited to see how it plays out,” said Bryce Dye, sophomore infielder and business administration major. Park one won and lost one against Missouri Valley College in 2019 and has a 3-2 record against Graceland University from the last two seasons.

Dye, who missed the 2021 Joplin Tournament due to COVID-19 restrictions, led the Pirates with five home runs and 17 RBIs last season before the pandemic shut everything down. Dye made his season debut against Harris-Stowe on March 6, where he went 0-5 at the plate in two games. He returned the following day and went 0-3 in game one before breaking out in game two and going 2-4 with a three-run home run and a double.

“I hold myself to a high standard, so I mean, the way I played this weekend definitely is going to drive me to do better,” Dye said. “As a team, I expect us to keep on giving it our all and never give up no matter what the score is.”

Park’s baseball team has been led by junior infielder Sam Derks, a business administration major. Derks lead the Pirates in runs with eight, in RBI’s with seven, in hits with six, and in home runs with three.

“I’m just taking a humble approach,” Derks said. “Just trying to help the team win.”

Derks is looking forward to all the different teams and opportunities that the new conference will bring. “Personally, I want to be All-Conference,” Derks said. “For the team, a tournament appearance and to go deep into the playoffs. That’s the goal, I just want to win and play.”

Park opened its conference schedule on March 13 against Clarke University.