The Baker University baseball team fell short of its ultimate goal of reaching the playoffs, but it has plenty of confidence heading into next season after winning or splitting its last seven doubleheaders.
"Overall, we didn't really complete our goal of making the conference tournament, but seeing how we ended on a really strong note, that will definitely help lead to a positive season next year," junior Nathan Wheelock said.
The Wildcats concluded their season Saturday by splitting a doubleheader against Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa.
BU got out to a 2-0 lead in game one, but the Yellowjackets took the lead with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and won 6-4.
The 'Cats jumped out to an early lead in game two as well, by scoring three runs in the top of the first. The three runs would be BU's only runs, but that would be all it would need.
Baker defeated Graceland 3-0 behind a combined three-hit shutout from sophomore Taylor Edging, and freshmen Brian Replogle and James Gricol.
"All of those guys did an outstanding job of keeping the Graceland hitters off balance," head coach Phil Hannon said.
BU played its final home games Friday against Graceland. The two teams split that doubleheader, with Baker winning game one 6-1, and Graceland taking game two 11-0 in six innings.
Junior Chris Cummins went the distance in game one to notch his fifth victory of the season.
Cummins ended the season with a record of 5-3 and a 3.03 ERA. He will lead a core group of players who will return next year for the Wildcats.
Although only four players are leaving the team after this season, Wheelock believes those players will be hard to replace.
"Even though the four seniors are key players, we have a lot of younger guys that need to step up," Wheelock said.
The Wildcats will lose their team leader in home runs, RBIs and batting average in senior Brandon Truitt.
Truitt hit two home runs, knocked in 47 runs and hit for an average of .398.
Senior Jared Herbert had one of his best games of the season in game one of the team's second-to-last home doubleheader against MidAmerica Nazarene University.
Herbert went 3-3 with two RBIs and a run scored in the game, including a go-ahead, two-RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning.
"We really needed a big hit at the time, and I made a few blunders base-running earlier in the game, so it was really nice to come through for my teammates," Herbert said.
The Wildcats finished the season with an overall record of 19-22, and conference record of 12-16. BU placed seventh out of 11 teams in the HAAC.