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Kenyon baseball improves after pandemic struggles

Kenyon pitcher Alex Gow during the Owls’ 2022 season. (Credit: Kenyon College Athletics)

GAMBIER, Ohio (BVM) – With a 2020 season that lasted just 15 games before being canceled due to the pandemic, the 2021 baseball season would present a host of new challenges for the Kenyon College baseball team.

When the 2020 season was canceled in March, college classes would be moved online and students wouldn’t live on campus for the rest of the semester. Given the circumstances, the team didn’t have a chance to practice together. For the entire 2020-2021 school year, only some of the students would be on campus. These factors meant that the team had limited practice time together leading up to the start of the 2021 season.

“I think the challenge is just familiarity again,” Kenyon baseball head coach Matt Burdette said prior to the start of the 2021 season. “It’s been a long time since we’ve taken the field and had any sort of consistent practice time. We’ll have to ramp it up pretty quick to get ready for the games.”

In addition, the college’s decision to not have freshmen on campus, and team stars Alex Gow and Alexander Hoskins choosing to take the semester off, left them with a severe shortage of players with just 20 players to carry through a season littered with doubleheaders. 

Given the circumstances, the Owls had a surprisingly good season, finishing 7-7, as the scorching hot hitting of Kyle Dwyer, Andrew Rabinowitz, and Will Sturgeon led the way, as the trio racked up batting averages of .422, .388, and .383, respectively. 

Heading into the 2022 season, the Owls had reason to be optimistic coming off of a promising season and sporting a much more complete roster. However, the team got off to a 5-6 start, before things seemed to change overnight. Behind the team’s increased hitting depth, and the pitching of Gow, who would finish the year with a 7-1 record, a 1.75 ERA, and a ridiculous 99 strikeouts in 66.2 innings, the Owls went on a 14-game winning streak, putting them in contention for a Division III NCAA tournament berth. 

Kenyon came into the final day of the season needing one win in a doubleheader against the College of Wooster, in order to clinch a postseason appearance. Gow went seven innings, striking out 11 batters and allowing just one run, before he was taken out of the game with the Owls leading 3-1. This decision proved costly, as two eighth inning runs brought the game to extra innings, and Jack Whitehouse’s walk-off single to left clinched the game for Wooster in the 11th inning. In an offensive battle in the second match, the Owls were ultimately blown out, 16-5 to end their postseason dreams.

Despite the disappointment of the end of the season, Kenyon had a terrific bounce back season, finishing 23-13 overall. Gow and Rabinowitz received all-North Coast Athletic Conference honors, and Gow was named the NCAC Pitcher of the Year. He was also a third team Division III All-American, becoming Kenyon’s first baseball player to be recognized as an All-American.

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