Recipe for Success Leads Bucs to MWC Championship
Moment number 1: March, Auburndale, Fla. Beloit’s baseball team defeated Wittenberg College in extra innings.Neither team allowed a single run over the first nine innings. In the bottom of the ninth, first-year Jalen Davis hit a clutch single to left field; however, senior Adrian Peil was thrown out at the plate for the final out of the inning. The Buccaneers continued to fight—in the bottom of the 10th, senior Tyler Peacock’s two out single scored junior Mike Gulve for the game winner and the Bucs stormed the field to congratulate Peacock. It wouldn’t be the last dog-pile of the season.
Moment number 2: Just five days later. With the Bucs trailing Iowa Wesleyan 4-3 in the eighth, Head Coach Dave DeGeorge’89 called on Beloit’s ace pitcher, Ryan Kaveney’16, to provide an offensive spark. Not in the starting line-up because of an injury, Kaveney told DeGeorge he could hit, but couldn’t run. With two outs and two strikes, Kaveney launched a two-run homer, giving the Bucs a lead they would hold. As Kaveney limped around the bases, it was clear that his impact on this team would continue to go far beyond what he would do on the mound.
These early-season moments foreshadowed a historic season for the Bucs. A great senior class leading with toughness and a selfless commitment to the team, along with a bona fide superstar, would prove to be a recipe for success.
Beloit’s hopes to advance to the conference tournament came down to the last day of the regular season. Beloit hosted Ripon, and the Bucs needed just one win to advance to the tournament and gain a share of the North Division title. Beloit jumped the Red Hawks early and sailed to a 10-0 win, earning their tournament spot and eliminating Ripon.
In the opening game of the tournament in De Pere, Wis., Beloit faced nationally ranked South Division champion Grinnell. With ace Kaveney on the mound, the Bucs moved into the winner’s bracket with a 5-1 win. The fast-working Kaveney allowed just three hits, and struck out 11, while walking no one.
Up next was St. Norbert. Down 2-0 for most of the contest, the Bucs rallied for two runs in the seventh. Austin Padjen’17 pitched nine innings, scattering eight hits and giving up solo runs in the second and third. Heading into extra innings, coach DeGeorge called on Kaveney, pitching on a few hours’ rest and in the game as designated hitter. The Green Knights got a run in the top of the 10th, but Beloit tied it in the bottom of the inning on a clutch two-out, two-strike single by Zack Kolasinski’16. Peil raced for the plate and slid home, tying the game. After Kaveney struck out two of the three SNC hitters in the eleventh, senior Joey Casa hit a one-out double in the bottom of the inning. After an intentional walk and a fly out, Kaveney came to the plate and hit the game-winning single to send the Bucs to the championship game.
The next day, Grinnell eliminated St. Norbert. As Beloit took the field around 2 p.m., the Bucs were one win away from a conference title.
The tough and talented Grinnell squad matched the Bucs through the first four innings. However, the Bucs broke the 2-2 tie and took the lead for good in the top of the fifth. Starting pitcher Luke Brennan’19 pitched seven innings, allowing only four hits. With Grinnell threatening in the bottom of the ninth, Kaveney wanted to take the mound. DeGeorge asked his bench coach, his father Ed DeGeorge, for advice. He said “get Kaveney in the game and win a championship right now.” And that’s exactly what happened. Sparking an already electric atmosphere, Kaveney went to work. A lightning quick strikeout was followed by a fly ball to left field. As Kolasinski made the catch, Beloit captured its second Midwest Conference Championship.
Head Baseball Coach Dave DeGeorge’89 was named Midwest Conference Coach of the Year for the third time in May 2016. This past spring marked his 26th season as head coach. He also claimed Coach of the Year conference honors in 2009 and 2011.