TACOMA, Washington – The 2017 Puget Sound baseball team made strides on the mound and in the field, but the offense scuttled as the Loggers finished the season with a 14-24 (7-17 NWC) record.
Puget Sound tied the program record with a .963 fielding percentage, a vast improvement from the .949 fielding percentage in the previous season. The pitching staff finished the 2017 campaign with a 4.32 ERA, which is the program's best mark in four years.
Senior reliever Eric Crispell and junior starting pitcher Merle Rowan-Kennedy led the Loggers' efforts on the mound. Both pitchers were named All-Northwest Conference Honorable Mention. Crispell worked primarily out of the bullpen this season, and finished with a 2.23 ERA to go along with two wins and a couple of saves. He has started two games in 16 appearances this spring. Between those two starts (11 IP), Crispell had a 3.27 ERA.
Rowan-Kennedy was the Loggers' most consistent starting pitcher this season. He led the team with four wins, and has struck out 59 batters in 68.1 innings. Among his notable starts, Rowan-Kennedy tossed seven shutout innings against Linfield (March 12), and he held Whitworth to just one run on four hits (March 25).
Freshman catcher Ricardo Barazza led a strong youth movement for the Loggers. Barazza was named to the All-NWC Second Team by hitting .305 to go along with five doubles. He posted a .992 fielding percentage behind the dish.
Barazza was not the only freshman who earned ample playing time. In fact, Logger freshmen combined for more than 400 at-bats during the 2017 season. Freshman first baseman Mason Quinlan hit .310 in 87 at-bats, and freshman outfielder Corey Roberts batted .339 in 62 trips to the plate.
Nolan Wiler was solid at the hot corner for the Loggers, as the freshman committed just six errors in 29 games.
As a class, Puget Sound freshmen combined to hit .277 with 22 doubles, two triples, and three home runs.
Jack Gries had a strong sophomore season, especially in the second half of 2017. Gries finished the season with a .293 batting average, but hit .347 in the final 14 games of the season. Gries belted a walk-off double when the Loggers beat Whitworth, 4-3, in the final game of the season.
Puget Sound made a triumphant return to Cheney Stadium – home of the Seattle Mariners' Triple-A affiliate, Tacoma Rainiers. The Loggers went head-to-head against crosstown rival, Pacific Lutheran, on April 4. Alex Wojtysiak and Ryan Darrow both hit solo home runs at Cheney Stadium, but rain suspended a tied game in the fifth inning.
The game resumed at Logger Baseball Field on April 24, where Puget Sound closed out a 4-2 victory over the Lutes. Matt Shelhamer's two-run homer in the eighth inning stood as the game-winning hit.
The Loggers hit just .243 as a team in 2017, but they typically saved their best for the best. Puget Sound earned eight wins over the top four teams in the Northwest Conference.
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