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Snyder puts Avengers on ice in Vikings home opener

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Mercer County Community College’s baseball team got to play on home turf for the first time on Thursday, March 23.

The Vikings kicked off their homestand with a 10-1 victory over the ASA Avengers. They returned from their week-long road trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to cold, wet weather that caused a postponement of their first two home games against Rockland Community College and Brookdale Community College

However, head coach Kevin Kerins told The VOICE he believes that the weather has worked to the team’s advantage as it gave them the opportunity to rest after the energy sucking time spent playing in Myrtle Beach, where the team went 5-3.

“It has been cold unfortunately, but we play through it, this recent snow storm hit at a good time, we were able to fly back from Myrtle Beach and it also gave us nice break upon return to recover. We only lost 2 games, which have been rescheduled,” Kerins said.

Kerins also thinks the additional obstacle of playing in unusual conditions will build up his team’s mental toughness and endurance.

“In January and early February it can be tough [because] we have [a] long season and we put [a] lot of time, practicing indoors, on turf, field, outside in cold can wear on guys, but I also think it makes our guys mentally strong.  Our players know we are working toward something special each season and being flexible with practice plans, game locations and times is part of process,” Kerins said.

Sophomore infielder Gabe Castillo got the Vikings on the board early with his first homerun of the season in the bottom of the first inning.

Castillo said, “We were just all trying to do something for the team, came back ready, got a couple of days off, came back and put some hits together.”

Sophomore infielder Erik Bowren contributed a home run of a different fashion by hitting an inside the park, two run homerun in the bottom of the sixth, which put the Vikings ahead of ASA by eight.

Bowren told The VOICE, “It was good to get that one today. It gets your adrenaline going for sure. Off the bat I had a feeling it was probably gonna be three, but then I was coming around second and I saw the coach just kinda keep waving me and I thought if he was gonna keep waving then I’m just gonna go. It was a bang-bang play, but lucky for us I was safe.”

Another noteworthy performances of the game was that of freshman starting pitcher Nick Snyder. Snyder improved to a perfect 4-0 on the season by throwing a shutout five inning performance featuring ten strikeouts, only one short of his season high. Snyder told The VOICE he thought it was his strongest outing of the year, though he gave up seven hits and three walks, as well as pitching in  a first and second no-out jam in the top of the second inning. Still, Snyder was ultimately able to keep the Avengers off the board for five innings.

Snyder told The VOICE, “When I get into jams like that it almost seems like the game slows down a bit, my intensity and focus goes up, and I think that really helped me get out of those jams. Just slowing it down and really figuring out how to get out of those jams.”

ASA’s only run of the game came in the seventh inning with the Vikings already up by nine.

With the team’s longest trip of the season now behind them they were able to open up a seven game homestand, with what Bowren says was a crucial win: “Being the home opener and stuff in the cold weather, we wanted to come out here and get a win. They’re a great team with a lot of talent, so we just wanted to get out there as a team and play some good team baseball and we did that today.”

The Vikings have improved to 13-4 on the season, which puts them one step further on their goal of a return trip to the NJCAA World Series.

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