No Home Field Advantage

Jimmy Fisher, Reporter

For the second year in a row the MU baseball team is taking their season on the road away from the old home field.

Adverse weather conditions throughout the spring semester of last season forced the team to leave campus for all but one game. The team played all but four games on the road and those four “home games” were in Swoyersville, PA, where the Cougars went 3-1 and 30-16 overall. The Cougars ended the season with a loss to Kean College.

Pete Egbert, head coach of the men’s baseball team, said it will be a difficult challenge to go on the road for an entire season, but he is confident that the team can handle the fielding situation and remain disciplined.

“We’ll talk about it a lot,” said Egbert. “Because we’ll be on the road, it will take time out of their day so they have to be a little more disciplined as far as setting time aside to study for their academics and eating their meals.”

Players feel they are prepared to play the entire season away from home because they became accustomed to the schedule last year.

“We’re kind of used to it,” said pitcher, senior Max Weintraub. “It’s a challenge but if we overcome it, it’s only going to make us better.”

Weintraub is entering his last season, and it will be emotionally trying to leave the field he called home for his college playing days. But it’s not field he’ll miss, but the fans who fill its sidelines to cheer on the Cougars.

“The hard part is going to be not having all the fans there,” said Weintruab. “With the old field we used to have over 100 fans a game just coming in between classes. We’ll have our loyal fans, but not as much as we used to. It’s nice to have them show up and support us.”

While Roosevelt Field will be considered the Cougars’ home-away-from- home this season, some might consider it a homecoming.

Junior centerfielder Kenny Durling attended Wyoming Valley West high school, where he played ball on Roosevelt Field during the high school season. Durling feels that between his knowledge of the field and the teams’ experience last season, they have an advantage going into 2012.

“It’s an interesting field,” Durling said. “It’s not in the best of conditions but it’s our home.”

Durling described what said he’s not worried about the players’ travel.

“We’re a veteran group,” said Durling. “We know what we need to do and we know what needs to get done and we’ll be fine on the road. We just have to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves and just play our game.”

Durling, a junior, said he looks forward to returning for the 2013 season to a brand new Tambur Field. He added that he feels a heavy heart for the seniors going into their final semester as Cougars.

“I just feel bad for the seniors we have now, not having a home field,” Durling said. “They haven’t had a home game in two years now. That’s not a good situation for them. I’m excited [to use Tambur Field] but we have got to get through this year first.”

One advantage is that Roosevelt Field is located fifteen minutes away on Route 309 South, which makes travel for students and fans easier. Egbert is pleased that the field is so close by, so the players can still have their peers and family cheer to cheer them on.

“We have great support from our families and people traveling multiple hours to get here for games,” said Egbert. “It’s a little bit closer for them now so I don’t think traveling will be an issue.”

Players are equally confident that Egbert will guide them through. His accomplishments include winning Coach of the Year in the Freedom Conference and ECAC South in 2010 after leading the Cougars to a 30-18 record.  MU also won the Freedom Conference championship and advanced to the winner’s bracket final of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament. Egbert was named Coach of the Year in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference in his first season after leading the Cougars to a playoff berth in 2008. He owns an overall career record of 179-165, including an 88-78 mark at MU.