Sports team highlight

MIT Baseball reflects on its shortened season

Q&A with the MIT Baseball team, whose season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The MIT Baseball Team played three matches before the season was suspended and students were asked to leave campus. The three matches played included 9-5 and 13-7 wins against UMass Boston and Nichols College and a 12-7 loss against Endicott College. The Tech asked Coach Andy Barlow to reflect upon the crisis and its effects on the Baseball team in an email. 

The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The Tech: What are you most proud of about your team’s progress this year?

Andy Barlow: Despite our short 3 game season it was apparent that we might have a special group.  In those 3 games — we beat the pre-season #6 team in the country (UMass Boston) and shattered an MIT record with 8 team home runs in a 13-7 victory over Nichols College.  Of those 8 home runs, senior Matt Johnston hit 4 of them which was also an MIT record and tied a NCAA D3 record.

TT: What makes the current team and the graduating class of seniors special?

Barlow: Despite losing their final season, our 6 graduating seniors have left their mark on our program, be it through their play on the field or their outstanding work ethic and leadership.  

TT: Are there any words of wisdom you have for your team or the MIT Community as a whole?

Barlow: The cancellation of the spring baseball season was very difficult for all players and coaches, especially our senior class.  Obviously, our initial reactions were a mix of anger, disbelief and disappointment but it quickly became apparent that the Covid-19 pandemic was a very serious issue and well beyond anything we could imagine at the time. Hopefully, we will all stay safe and healthy and keep supporting each other in any way possible as we work our way through this life changing event.

The Tech also asked seniors (Class of 2020) Thomas Allison, Matt Johnston, Zack Kopstein, Tony Rice, Trey Roberts, and Jared Tramontano who missed their last season to reflect about the sudden end of their final season and the time they spent at MIT. Allison, Kopstein, and Tramontano did not respond to the request for interview.

TT: What is your favorite memory from your MIT Baseball career?

Matt Johnston: There are so many good memories, but the best moment as a team was definitely winning the NEWMAC championship last year. Especially the way we did it, coming back from a heartbreaking loss the day before to beat the number 6 team in the country with the league's best pitcher on the mound. Individually, I think that my favorite moment was either hitting the game-tying home run last year in the playoffs against Springfield, or hitting 4 home runs in our last game this year. Both of them were surreal and the kind of moments that you don't even dare to dream of.

Tony Rice: I would say my favorite moment from my MIT baseball career was winning the NEWMAC championship.

Trey Roberts: My favorite memory of my MIT baseball career was winning the NEWMAC championship last year. Winning a conference championship and making the NCAA tourney is an amazing team accomplishment, and it is a memory everyone on the team will have forever.

TT: What do you appreciate most about the senior class?

Johnston: The senior class is an amazing group of guys, and I really appreciate the way we go about our business. I think in general we are not the most flashy or vocal group, but we show up to the field every day ready to do what we need to do to put ourselves in a position to be successful. Beyond that, I think resilience is a big thing for this group. We have been through a lot together on and off the field but we just keep showing up to the field ready to play and see what happens.

Rice: The thing I appreciate the most about the senior class was the respect we had for one another. Each of us led the team in our own unique way, and every player trusted each other to do so because we understood our class’ unspoken, shared goal to better the team and our program.

Roberts: Our senior class is very cohesive and everyone genuinely cares about the success of each other. Whether it be offering advice on your swing, or checking up on how you are doing, our class is very caring and it made it feel like a real family throughout the 4 years.

TT: What message do you have for the rest of your team and for future baseball teams at MIT?

Johnston: I think that at MIT there are so many communities pulling you in different directions, and it can be difficult to tell who will really support you and push you. Baseball is something that has been important to all of us for our whole lives, and it's a place that allows people to come together, count on each other, and pull on the same rope. I hope that my teammates can continue to promote a culture where you can rely on your teammates to be there for you and give you that extra push when you need it.

Rice: The message I would have for our team and for future baseball teams at MIT is that each practice and game is an opportunity to better those around you. You’ll never play better and have more fun when what you care about most is your teammates.

Roberts: Be passionate about everything you do on and off the field for your teammates. At times it can be hard with all that consumes you at MIT, and I was guilty of letting it consume me at times. But when you can think about the bigger picture, and getting better at baseball for the team, it can help you push through. When people can buy in like that, the team can reach new heights. I felt everyone bought in like that last year, and that was instrumental in winning a conference championship. The talent is there, and I’m very excited to see what the team will accomplish in the future.

The Tech, alongside the rest of the MIT community, is saddened that the Baseball team was unable to play its entire season and work to winning NEWMAC again, but we hope to see the team continuing to hit it out of the ballpark in future seasons. We wish the seniors the best in their next steps and thank them for playing for the Engineers and their exemplary performances that will certainly inspire future MIT players.