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Martel, Titans Holds Out Hope After Slow Start to Baseball Season

Written by on March 7, 2023

Image courtesy of Illinois Wesleyan Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, Ill – Lukas Wenz has not given up on the Illinois Wesleyan Titan’s season yet, despite a rocky start. 

“I think the first two weekends,” Wenz said, “just getting those first outing jitters out of the way, down the road, I’m very helpful we’ll be very solid.”

Coming into the season, the team had high hopes after rejuvenating it’s pitching staff and being one year removed from Covid-19 playing a role in any major way in life as a whole. But after a 1-6 start and a 6.83 staff ERA,  those hopes have been quickly sidelined, at least for now. But to sophomore Wenz, the struggles do make a modicum of sense. 

“We’re all very young.” Wenz said, “the majority of our pitching staff is new incoming transfers or underclassmen.”

With youth comes room to grow and lessons to learn, and the team feels as if they are set up well to do so, and they already feel like they’re seeing that growth happening already. 

“Starting from the first weekend, it was very rough, but in just a one week span, we noticed a lot of improvement, the team coming together, filling those spots,” said Wenz. “We had a huge senior class graduate last year, those guys were a majority of our lineup, so just filling in those stops with guys who haven’t seen the field much in a college atmosphere, those guys will get comfortable down the road.”

Head coach Dennis Martel agreed with Wenz’ diagnosis of the teams early-season-ills. 

“The inexperience, the newcomers, it’s been rough.” Martel said, “we haven’t pitched as well as we should, but even the veterans haven’t been giving big innings.”

Wenz has only pitched one inning thus far, one that saw him only give up one hit and zero runs. But after a 6.35 ERA in 13 appearances as a freshman last year, Wenz hopes that his offseason changes can keep his improvement coming.

“As a sophomore, I’m a lot more comfortable, I’m more familiar, I’m just more confident,” said Wenz. “I worked on getting my strength up, I put on 15 pounds, and I tweaked my delivery.” 

Martel has also put a fair shame of blame on himself. 

“I mismanaged the bullpen yesterday.” Martel admitted, “I told the other coaches we might lose some games because I’m going to mess it up.”

Despite the rough start, just like in past years Martel has preached patience through and through.

“We’ve struggled, but I told them yesterday, don’t look at the record.” Martel said, “let’s judge ourselves after about 20 games, because it’s there. I think we’re just gonna get better on the mound without a doubt.”